The Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute brings together transformative research and patient-centered care to improve the lives of patients today and those of generations to come.
Peter O'Donnell Jr. Brain Institute
The Department of Psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center has provided high-quality mental health and substance abuse services for adults since 1943.
As part of one of the largest psychiatry programs in the country, our experienced psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and other care providers perform thorough assessments and offer the latest treatments for people who need inpatient and outpatient care.
Compassionate Mental Health Care for Adults
Behavioral health disorders affect about one in five American adults, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Although many of these disorders are common and can be serious, they are treatable – and recovery is possible.
Behavioral health disorders include mental health and substance use disorders:
- Mental health disorders cause changes in a
person’s mood, thinking, or behavior. They affect how well people function in
relating to others and making decisions in work, school, or home life. Mental
health disorders can occur once, return intermittently, or continue over time.
- Substance use disorders develop when continued
alcohol or drug use significantly impairs a person’s ability to function well at
work, school, or home. These disorders can be mild, moderate, or severe and can
cause health problems or disability.
Our skilled behavioral health professionals, including board-certified psychiatrists, offer safe, effective treatment for adults who have mental health and substance use disorders. People come to UT Southwestern for many reasons:
based on the latest research: Our physician researchers participate in
studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), staying at the
forefront of behavioral health care.
- Expert care
for all types of behavioral health disorders: Our teams treat thousands of
patients each year. This high volume enhances our knowledge and experience in
providing excellent care for our patients.
- Access to
the latest treatments: By participating in clinical trials, our physicians
can offer patients access to advanced treatments that aren’t widely available.
care: Our behavioral health team approaches mental health treatment from a
biopsychosocial perspective, often working with the patient’s medical care team
– such as oncologists and neurologists – to enhance well-being.
Conditions We Treat
At UT Southwestern, our psychiatrists, psychologists, and other behavioral health professionals provide expert, compassionate care for a wide range of disorders:
When faced with a stressful life event, such as the death of a loved one or a divorce, people can have difficulty coping. Many symptoms of an adjustment disorder are similar to those of depression or anxiety, such as lack of interest, feelings of hopelessness, extreme sadness, or nervousness.
Anxiety, phobias, and panic disorders
Everyone worries from time to time, but when anxiety worsens over time and doesn’t go away, it can affect a person’s ability to carry out everyday activities. This group of disorders includes panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and generalized anxiety disorder.
Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
ADHD describes a persistent pattern of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity that interferes with a person’s functioning or development. Symptoms include easy distraction, inability to focus or listen, and difficulty following directions or completing tasks. Although ADHD can be diagnosed during a person’s teen or adult years, the condition typically begins in childhood.
Formerly known as manic depression, bipolar disorder causes mood changes that are abnormally extreme. A period of elevated mood is called mania, in which a person feels uncharacteristically energetic or active. Signs of a manic episode include rapid speaking, easy distraction, and impulsive, high-risk behavior. A period of low mood is depression.
This common condition can cause feelings of hopelessness and extreme sadness for more than just a few days. Clinical depression can last for weeks or months, affecting a person’s ability to function at work, school, or home. Other symptoms include loss of interest in favorite activities, appetite changes, problems with sleep, fatigue, and thoughts of suicide.
Occasional forgetfulness is normal, especially as people age. Memory loss that interferes with a person’s ability to perform everyday activities can be a sign of depression, mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, or another type of dementia. It’s important to see a physician who specializes in geriatric psychiatry for a complete evaluation to rule out other possible causes of memory loss, such as another health condition or reaction to a medication. Learn more about the care we provide for memory disorders.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder in which uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) create feelings of discomfort and apprehension that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions) in an effort to control the thoughts. Symptoms include excessive hand-washing, repetitive checking, counting, and arranging things in a particular way. Not all such habits reach the level of compulsion. But when the thoughts and behaviors interfere with a person’s daily activities, it could be OCD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Some people develop PTSD after experiencing a traumatic event, such as physical or sexual abuse, war, death of a loved one, or a serious accident. Symptoms of this disorder include intrusive memories such as flashbacks or nightmares, avoidance of items related to the event, and an exaggerated startle response. Not everyone who experiences trauma develops PTSD, but the condition can be diagnosed if symptoms continue for at least one month.
This serious, chronic illness affects a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions, and relate to others. Symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, difficulty expressing emotions, and difficulty processing information. Although schizophrenia has no cure, its symptoms can be managed with treatment and life-management strategies.
Substance use disorders
People with substance use disorders can become dependent (addicted) to any of a number of substances: alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine, hallucinogens such as LSD, or opioids (prescription pain medications).
Treatment for Adults with Behavioral Health Disorders
Our physicians and researchers work together to translate our leading-edge research into evidence-based practices for patient care. Through these advancements, we offer effective treatment to help our patients improve their overall functioning and quality of life.
At UT Southwestern, the Division of Psychiatry offers outpatient services for people who experience problems with work and relationships or who have symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Our therapeutic approaches include, but are not limited to:
- Psychotherapy (individual, group, or family)
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Mindfulness training or other complementary and
alternative medicine (CAM) therapies
- Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation
- Ketamine infusion therapy
- Intensive outpatient treatment
For people who need more intensive behavioral health care, we offer inpatient care to stabilize symptoms, improve well-being, and restore functional abilities to help patients get back to their daily activities. Learn more about inpatient psychiatry at UT Southwestern.
Our neuropsychologists work with patients’ primary care physicians and other physicians at UT Southwestern to evaluate brain function in patients with neurological conditions or several mental illnesses. This testing can help diagnose or rule out cognitive impairment related to Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions affecting the brain. Learn more about our neuropsychology program.
Our Neurocognitive and Geriatric Psychiatry Program provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment of cognitive and age-related conditions. Our team includes experts in psychiatry, psychology, and neuropsychology, as well as the involvement of other subspecialty services when indicated.
We provide care for a broad range of conditions, such as disorders of mood, behavior, and thought process resulting from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, brain injury, or other neurocognitive disorders. We also specialize in the care of older adults who are experiencing mental health symptoms related to aging or memory.
Our specialists trained in child and adolescent psychiatry provide outpatient, day treatment, and inpatient care through our partnership with Children’s Medical Center Dallas. Learn more about the Children’s Health Psychiatry Program.
Support Services for Behavioral Health
Our behavioral health professionals are dedicated to caring for the whole patient – body, mind, and spirit. With a focus on quality of life, we help connect patients and their families with support groups and other resources that can be tailored to meet their specific needs. Find out more about supportive services available for psychiatry and psychology patients.
Clinical Trials in Psychiatry
The Division of Psychiatry sponsors research programs in several areas of behavioral health, such as:
- Bipolar disorder
- Family studies
- Substance use