Welcome to the Depression blog. I will use this space to write about interesting topics on the subject of depression and psychiatry in general.
My name is Chris Ballas, and I am a psychiatrist who works in a number of different capacities. I do inpatient and consult-liaison psychiatry at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and work as a private practice consultant/forensic psychiatrist.
As an inpatient psychiatrist, I see patients with acute psychiatric issues. It is neither practical nor helpful to keep people in the hospital until they are "cured." The main purpose of hospitalization isn't a complete remission of symptoms, or even dramatic improvement, but stabilization. In short, the main goal of inpatient treatment is to get the patient to be well enough to be able to go back home and continue the treatment as an outpatient. This means reducing their symptoms (with medications and/or therapy), managing the risk of suicide and creating a plan for follow-up after discharge.
As a Consult psychiatrist, other medical subspecialties such as Surgery, OB/Gyn, etc, will call upon me to help them manage the psychiatric issues of their particular patients. This could be anything from helping a patient cope with their illness, to managing the delirium associated with one of their medications.
As a forensic psychiatrist, I serve as consultant to the legal system about medical questions. Attorneys or other legal parties will ask me to conduct an evaluation to assist them in answering questions about how their medical or psychiatric situation impacts on their legal case. For example, I may be asked to evaluate if someone is able to understand their legal case and assist in their own defense, or if someone's acute psychiatric condition affected their behavior during a crime. Additionally, I am asked to evaluate malpractice cases, to see if I believe the management was within the standard of care.
Feel free to send me questions or topics for discussion, and I'll try to help make sense of the multiple diagnoses, medications and treatments in psychiatry. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to hearing from you.