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Wellness Program

Psychiatry Services for Patients with Physical Health Problems

The multidisciplinary Wellness Program treats the emotional and psychological factors that affect physical health. Individuals who suffer from pain, heart disease, cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, women’s reproductive health issues, HIV/AIDS, neurological illnesses, obesity and other medical problems are at high risk for developing emotional problems. Surprisingly, these mental factors usually lead to greater disability than the medical illness itself, and can seriously diminish the quality of a person’s life. Emotional problems also interfere with treatment and recovery from the medical problem and can decrease life expectancy.

The good news is that many of these illnesses respond extremely well to treatment. Approximately 80% of people who suffer from depression get better with treatment. Patients who receive treatment in the Wellness Program receive a full diagnostic evaluation by clinicians who specialize in the interaction between emotional disorders and other medical illnesses.

Conditions We Treat

Patients may benefit from a variety of effective treatments including medication evaluation and consultation, counseling, stress management and biofeedback. These treatment approaches are offered in conjunction with those of other departments and specialty clinics of the GWU Medical Faculty Associates, such as the Pain Management Center, the Sleep Center and the Center for Integrative Medicine. A range of medical conditions can be treated within the program including:

  • Cancer
  • Gastrointestinal conditions (irritable bowel syndrome, hepatitis C, swallowing disorders, incontinence and constipation)
  • Neurological conditions (tension and vascular headaches, sleep disorders, pseudoseizures, multiple sclerosis)
  • Cardiovascular conditions (arteriosclerotic heart disease, angina pectoris, high blood pressure, heart transplants, internal defibrillators)
  • Obesity (gastric bypass surgery)
  • Mood disorders in women, depression and anxiety related to infertility, pregnancy and the postpartum period
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Diabetes
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Smoking cessation
  • Asthma

Services provided include:

  • Psychiatric evaluation
  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Ongoing collaboration with primary care and specialty care physicians
  • Medication regulation and monitoring
  • Supportive counseling
  • Individual psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral psychotherapy
  • Group psychotherapy

Biofeedback

Biofeedback may be the treatment of choice for these problems. Our faculty psychologist personally facilitates the integration of such training with other facets of the patient's treatment. In addition to the common biofeedback modalities listed below, special individualized application can be developed:

  • EMG (muscle) biofeedback
  • Thermal biofeedback
  • Electrodermal biofeedback
  • Heart rate and pulse volume feedback
  • Strain gauge technology

Faculty in the Wellness Program include Lorenzo Norris, MD, Assistant Professor, Director of Psychiatric Consultation-Liaison Service.

Clinical Trials

  • Enhancing Fear Extinction via Angiotensin Type 1 Receptor Inhibition: A randomized Controlled Trial in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
    The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of losartan during 10 weeks of treatment for adults with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
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