Dr Zerrin Atakan, Consultant Psychiatrist

Dr Zerrin Atakan

Consultant Psychiatrist, Drug Addiction and General Psychiatry

My professional qualifications, accreditations and memberships:

Specilaist degree in Psychiatry (Hacettepe University, Turkey), FRCPsych., MD

My professional experience:

After completing my psychiatric training and receiving my specialist degree in psychiatry at the Hacettepe University, Turkey, I moved to the UK with a research scholarship, following which I joined the psychiatric training scheme in Nottingham and obtained my membership degree from the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I then moved to London to complete my higher training at Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospitals. From 1990 until 2003, I worked as a psychiatric intensive care Consultant at the South London and Maudsley Trust and from 2003 until 2007 I was the Lead Consultant at the National Psychosis Unit at the Maudsley Hospital, London. I retired from the NHS in 2007 and now work as an Honorary Senior Lecturer and a Senior Researcher at the Neuroimaging Section of The Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, where I research the effects of cannabis compounds on mental health as well as in the development of an intervention model to treat those with psychosis who continue to use substances. I do private practice two days a week. I have written many articles on the effects of cannabis in peer reviewed, high impact journals and make frequent presentations on cannabis related topics, as well as on the how to treat treatment resistant psychoses.

My personal statement:

I believe every person has specific needs and their unique circumstances should be taken into account in planning treatment, based on research evidence and my own extensive experience. Open and honest collaboration is essential in the provision of care. I am always keen to explain treatment options and possible side effects and I also like working in close collaboration with key carers and family members. I bring together the latest evidence based medical research with psychotherapeutic interventions for the treatment of mental illness.

I have extensive expertise in the treatment of patients with severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Due to my research interest on the effects of cannabis use on mental health I also have specific expertise in helping those who have mental health problems in relation to cannabis use. I have extensive experience with depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome through the 16 years I worked with asylum seekers at the South London & Maudsley Trust.

My services include the following areas of expertise:

  • Full assessment and treatment of mental health problems
  • Diagnosis of psychoses (severe mental illness) and neuroses
  • Second opinions on mental health problems
  • Consultation and treatment of severe and treatment resistant mental illness
  • Consultation and treatment of depression, anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Expert assessments and court reports on mental health related problems, including miscarriages of justice, asylum and immigration cases
  • Mental health assessments of Turkish speaking people

Additional information about my research, publications and interests:

The current research projects I am involved with are

  • Improving physical well-being and reducing substance use in people with severe mental illness (IMPACT) programme – August 2007 – present (5 year programme grant obtained from National Institute of Health Research, UK)  (Leading the substance use arm of the research) – Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
  • The effects of tetrahydrocannabivarin on THC vs. Placebo – Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
  • The effects of cannabidiol on high risk people with psychoses by use of a virtual reality test – Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London

Here are some of my most recent publications:

Media work (on cannabis related issues):

  • Cannabis Psychosis’ Channel 4 documentary, (One hour long) 16.12.2002 (Transmitted again in April 2003)
  • BBC World ‘Violence and Society’, following WHO report on violence, 3.10.2002
  •  Frequently mentioned in National broadsheets on cannabis related issues
  • Press interviews, releases following the release of NICE recommendations on the use of antipsychotics, 2002
  • Regular media work in Turkey
  • Regular media work on cannabis and mental health related issues, including appearances on Newsnight – BBC 2, BBC One 6:30 news and Radio 4
  • Horizon BBC1 documentary on the effects of cannabis, transmitted in 3 February 2009
  • BBC Learning –transmitted in spring 2009

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