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The general practitioner

A substantial number of psychiatric patients, at least at the beginning of their illnesses, but sometimes also over the course of a longer period of time, are occasionally treated by general practitioners. General practitioners provide 40-50% of all psychiatric treatment covered by statutory health insurance, although they primarily provide care for people with depressions or with psychological problems which occur in the course of physical illnesses. Those affected with psychoses or bipolar disorders are rarely treated by general practitioners, primarily because the problems associated with the illness and the therapeutic necessities exceed the capacities of such general practitioners. Consequently, it is preferred that therapy be carried out by a neurologist in order to treat these illnesses. They are more familiar with a treatment employing medications, have more experience in the treatment of acute cases, are aware of the necessities associated with a longer-term therapy and chiefly have more knowledge about information affiliated with the psychological health-care system.

Nevertheless, there are still reasons for treatment to be performed by a general practitioner. It can be, for instance, that a patient has just acquired trust in a general practitioner, that the basic conditions (e.g. waiting time, vicinity from residence) are better or that the person affected is not in favour of visiting a psychiatrist. However, it may not be forgotten either that many general practitioners wish to be supported in their provision of treatment involving the psychiatrically ill.

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