Blood work does not have to be expensive. There are alternatives to the major laboratory companies; many which use the same physical sites to draw your blood and the same lab centers to complete the testing.
CRC recommends using Ulta Lab Tests* because of convenience, cost, and privacy. Ulta Lab Tests use QuestDirect to process the specimens (under CLIA regulations) but at a fraction of what Quest Diagnostics charges (or what they charge your insurance!). The results are stored in a safe and secure web-based platform for you to share with your providers (if you chose). When you use an available Promotion Code (SAVE50%OFF is typically the best coupon code for recommended tests through CRC) the cost is 20-30% less than their other blood test providers (e.g. Health Testing Centers, Personalabs, Everly Well). I started referring patients to Ulta Lab Tests when I was a 4th-year medical student volunteering at free clinics in the Tampa Bay area. When working in the public sector, for patients who were not receiving full sliding-scale fee discounts, Ulta Lab Tests was cheaper than having their blood drawn through the “health department.”
*CRC does not receive financial compensation or rewards from Ulta Lab Tests (or any company for that matter!).
“But why do I have to have blood testing for psychiatry?” Why don’t you just ask the provider?! Good communication and trust are vital to have a solid working relationship with your medical doctor. Always ask questions if you ever need more information on any aspect of your care.
Here are the possible reasons a psychiatrist may order a blood test:
- To evaluate for major medical conditions that may be the cause of the psychiatric conditions. The thyroid gland regulates the body’s metabolism (the body’s ability to break down food and convert it to energy). Low thyroid hormone(s) or hypothyroidism can cause fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and weight gain; all common symptoms of depression.
- To determine if treatments will be safe and screening for certain conditions that may necessitate prescribing certain medications over others (e.g. blood, heart, thyroid, or kidney conditions).
- To obtain baseline measurements before starting a specific type of treatment. If the provider is prescribing medications in the anti-psychotic class, it is important to check glucose (sugar), lipid (cholesterol, triglycerides), and liver function to measure the effects of the medication.
- To monitor levels of a specific medication in the blood to determine effectiveness, toxicity, or adherence. Lithium, a medication used for mood stabilization, is usually only effective if it is within a therapeutic range in your body. Blood levels too high are toxic and can lead to seizures, kidney failure, confusion, coma, and death.