Psychiatric Care FAQs

Psychiatric Care FAQs

I know that Walden can’t “cure” me, but they do a very good job creating an environment in which I can heal myself.
Former Patient

What is mental illness?
Mental illnesses are biologically based brain disorders resulting from chemical imbalances. Common mental illnesses include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, autism and other developmental disorders, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders, and personality disorders.

Mental illness can affect a person’s ability to function in society and can even lead to suicide.

What treatment options are available for someone with a psychiatric disorder?
The best way to treat mental illness is by combining behavioral changes, medication, psychotherapy and support. Early diagnosis and treatment can result in improvements in 70% to 90% of those with mental illness, according to the National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI).

What is a chemical imbalance?
Studies show that individuals with mental illness lack the typical balance of brain chemicals. For example, obsessive-compulsive disorder is believed to be caused by an insufficient balance of serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical that sends impulses from one nerve cell to another. Medication is typically prescribed to improve the chemical balance.

Why are stigmas associated with mental illness?
Historically, people with mental illness were thought of as being ‘crazy’ and were locked away in asylums that were little more than prisons. While a better understanding of mental illness has reduced the stigma, it still exists.

Another reason for the stigma may be because the symptoms of mental illness are behavioral. People may wrongly assume that those with mental illness can control their behavior. Physical illnesses manifest themselves with symptoms that we can see, so they are easier to understand.

When people with mental illness are stigmatized, it affects their attitude and feeling of self worth, making treatment more difficult. Acceptance by others is important to the individual’s long-term recovery.

Will health insurance cover the cost of treatment?
Insurance coverage of mental illness varies by state. Massachusetts law, for example, requires ‘parity,’ meaning that mental illness must receive the same level of coverage as physical illness. However, the parity law does not cover all mental illnesses. The treatment and diagnosis of addictions, eating disorders and some developmental disorders, such as autism, are not included, although legislation has been introduced that would create parity.

Will information and treatment be confidential?
Yes. All information is held in strict confidence and the patient’s right to privacy is respected. For additional information, see our HIPPA Privacy Policy.

How can someone with a mental illness find help?
If you or a loved one need help or have questions, you may call Walden Behavioral Care at 781-647-6700 or 781-647-6727.

What is an intake evaluation?
An intake evaluation takes place when a potential patient or the individual’s family contacts Walden’s Psychiatric Admissions Team (PAT). The PAT gathers information to determine the potential patient’s symptoms and potential condition. The patient’s safety and the urgency of medical needs are assessed immediately, and appropriate transportation is discussed.

What is depression?
Depression is a deep, prolonged feeling of sadness. It is normal to feel depressed occasionally, if the feelings are not too severe and do not last too long. Clinical help is typically needed if depression lasts more than two weeks, if the feeling is too severe for the person to function or if the individual feels suicidal.

What other characteristics are associated with depression?
While a feeling of sadness is universal for those with depression, other symptoms vary. An individual with depression may feel lethargic, restless or irritable. The individual may spend more time in bed or less time. Weight may increase or decrease. The individual may also feel unworthy, helpless or guilty. A person with depression may lose interest in work, sex or other activities. Thoughts of death or suicide are also common. Depression can be short term or it can last for years.

How common is depression?
More than 10 million Americans are being treated for depression.

Does depression affect both men and women?
While depression is common in both men and women, women are about twice as likely to become depressed.

Are genetic factors associated with depression?
Having someone with depression in the family doubles the likelihood that others will have depression.

At what age does depression usually appear?
Depression can affect people at any age. It is common in adolescents, adults and seniors.

How is depression treated?
Typically, depression is best treated through a combination of psychotherapy and medication. Support from family and friends is also important.

What is bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder, previously called manic-depressive disorder, is a condition that usually causes people to alternate between periods of depression and extreme excitement or agitation. There are different types of bipolar disorders. Some people may be manic and depressed at the same time. Others have manic episodes without any depression.

What other characteristics are associated with bipolar disorder?
During a manic episode, individuals with bipolar disorder may show signs of euphoria, hostility and hyperactivity. They may have an inflated self-esteem and talk about unrealistically ambitious plans. They may talk very fast and have difficulty focusing their attention on anything. Such behavior can escalate into psychotic behavior.

When depressed, individuals with bipolar disorder will feel sad, but other symptoms will vary. An individual with depression may feel lethargic, restless or irritable. The individual may spend more time in bed or less time. Weight may increase or decrease. The individual may also feel unworthy, helpless or guilty. A person with depression may lose interest in work, sex or other activities. Thoughts of death or suicide are also common.

How common is bipolar disorder?
About one person in 100 is diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Does bipolar disorder affect both men and women?
Bipolar disorder is equally common in men and women, but men are more likely to experience a manic episode first, while women are more likely to experience depression first.

Are genetic factors associated with bipolar disorder?
Bipolar disorder is much more common in families where someone has already been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

At what age does bipolar disorder usually appear?
Bipolar disorder most commonly appears in people under age 30.

How is bipolar disorder treated?
Bipolar disorder is typically treated with medication that is designed to control mood swings. Antidepressants or antipsychotic medications may also be needed. Group psychotherapy and support from family or loved ones are also important.

What is schizophrenia? What are some of its characteristics?
Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness that results in irrational behavior and disjointed speech. The individual may be paranoid, catatonic or disorganized. The paranoid schizophrenic suffers from delusions and hallucinations. The catatonic may have almost no body movement or may become agitated and exhibit excessive body movements. The disorganized schizophrenic exhibits speech and behavior that is jumbled, and may also exhibit inappropriate emotional responses.

Some individuals may exhibit more than one type of schizophrenia and are described as having undifferentiated schizophrenia. Those with a less severe form of schizophrenia are described as having residual schizophrenia.

How common is schizophrenia?
About one person in 100 is diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Does schizophrenia affect both men and women?
Schizophrenia affects men and women in equal numbers, but women sometimes develop schizophrenia later in life.

Are genetic factors associated with schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is much more common in families where someone has already been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

At what age does schizophrenia usually appear?
Schizophrenia most commonly appears in late adolescence or early adulthood.

How is schizophrenia treated?
Schizophrenia is treated with antipsychotic medications. Group psychotherapy and support from family or loved ones are also important. Depending on the severity of the condition, hospitalization may be necessary.