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Psychiatry at Sibley Memorial Hospital

Woman talking to her doctor

Psychiatric services at Sibley are provided by the hospital’s Behavioral Health Unit. In surveys conducted by the Washingtonian magazine, Sibley’s inpatient unit has consistently been among the top choices for psychiatric treatment in the Washington, D.C. region. 

Inpatient Services

Sibley Memorial Hospital’s inpatient Behavioral Health Program provides acute, short-term treatment for patients ages 18 and older in need of a safe, secure and therapeutic environment. The clinical treatment program is designed to return patients to their optimal levels of functioning as quickly as possible.

The inpatient program includes:

  • 24-hour nursing support
  • Psychiatric assessment by experienced psychiatrists
  • Medication stabilization and management
  • Multidisciplinary treatment planning
  • Social work/expressive therapy groups
  • Physical and occupational therapy consults
  • Nutrition consults

Outpatient Services

Sibley is one of very few providers in the area who offers the next generation of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, known as deep TMS or dTMS. This therapy, given on an outpatient basis, is a powerful depression treatment for patients for whom medications are inappropriate or ineffective.

Sibley also offers electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for outpatients when clinically indicated.

Contact Us

For more information about the psychiatry program, please contact social work at 202-660-7445

To be evaluated for outpatient dTMS treatment or to learn more, please contact Agnes Bradley-Wright, TMS coordinator, at abradle8@jhmi.edu or 202-660-6702.

If you have questions about inpatient or outpatient ECT services, please contact Ivy Hunt, ECT coordinator, at ihunt4@jhmi.edu or 202-243-5178.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Patients are evaluated at the Sibley Memorial Hospital Emergency Department for medical clearance before being admitted into the unit. Admissions for inpatient services are accepted 24 hours a day.

  • Physicians, psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals may refer a patient. The final decision regarding admission is made by an attending Sibley Hospital psychiatrist. To make a referral, medical professionals may call 202-537-4770, or a patient can present themselves to the Emergency Department for an evaluation.

  • The Behavioral Health Unit is a voluntary unit; therefore all patients must sign a voluntary consent form to be treated. The program does not take involuntary or court committed patients.

  • Commonly seen symptoms for which a person may seek treatment include:
    • Suicidal behavior and/or thoughts of harming self
    • Self-mutilative or assaultive behavior
    • Sleep or eating disturbances
    • Severe agitation
    • Medication noncompliance
    • Severe mood swings
    • Excessive and uncontrolled anger
    • Thought disturbance or distorted perception of reality
  • The program offers a variety of treatment groups, including:
    • Group psychotherapy
    • Coping skills group
    • Goals group
    • Wellness education group
    • Medication education group
    • Art therapy
  • Generally, most patients are treated for a period of seven to 10 days. The length of stay is highly individualized and dependent on a number of factors, including medical needs, placement issues and follow-up care. The goal of the Behavioral Health Unit is to provide all patients with an individualized treatment plan that best suits their particular needs and diagnosis.

  • Please contact your individual insurance provider to inquire if treatment is covered. Many insurance plans are accepted by the hospital. Private insurance companies often cover part or most of the cost of care, as do Medicare and Medicaid.

  • Monday through Friday, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.; weekends, 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Exceptions to this schedule may be granted through the patient’s physician.

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS and dTMS)

  • Depression is a serious medical illness affecting more than 14 million American adults every year, which is typically treated with antidepressant medications. Although antidepressants can be effective for many patients, some people do not receive adequate benefit from antidepressants and/or cannot tolerate their side effects. For these patients, TMS therapy offers an alternate treatment method for depression, first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2008.

    TMS has been clinically proven for the treatment of major depression in adults who have failed to achieve satisfactory improvement from prior antidepressant medication.

    At Sibley, we have recently switched to a next-generation TMS system, known as deep TMS (or dTMS), which provides TMS treatment in half the time of the previous system.

  • For TMS Treatment

    TMS therapy is a short outpatient procedure that uses short pulses of magnetic fields to stimulate nerve cells within the area of the brain thought to control mood. TMS therapy is performed at Sibley under supervision while the patient remains awake and alert.

    The treating clinician positions a treatment coil over the left prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved with mood regulation. Through the treatment coil, the TMS therapy system generates highly concentrated magnetic fields that turn on and off rapidly. These magnetic fields are the same type and strength as those produced by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine. When these pulses are administered in rapid succession, they can produce longer-lasting changes in brain activity.

    For dTMS Treatment

    As of September 2014, Sibley has begun providing treatment via a new type of TMS technology, called deep TMS, or dTMS. This system has recently been approved by the FDA for clinical use with patients and requires shorter and less frequent treatment sessions than earlier forms of TMS. dTMS sessions last 20 minutes and are given daily over four to five weeks.

    To be evaluated for outpatient dTMS treatment or to learn more please contact Agnes Bradley-Wright, by email at abradle8@jhmi.edu or call 202-660-6702.

  • TMS has been shown to be a safe and well-tolerated procedure that can be an effective treatment for patients with depression who have not benefited from antidepressant medications or cannot tolerate antidepressant medications due to side effects.

    dTMS therapy is not appropriate for all patients. Before scheduling you for treatment, you must first be evaluated by one of our TMS psychiatrists to determine if dTMS would be safe and appropriate for you.

TMS Staff

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