How long will my first appointment be?
Initial evaluations average between 50 and 60 minutes. Additional time may be required or can be requested. 
Do you accept insurance?
Dr. Ahmad does not accept insurance, but will provide information for claim reimbursement. Payment in full via check, Bitcoin, cash or credit card (3.9% surcharge) is required at each visit. 
I can’t get through on the number provided. Is there an alternate number that I can call?
You can reach the center by calling either: 212-585-1111 or 212-207-4500.
Do you provide psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy is an integral part of treatment for most of Dr. Ahmad’s patients.
Do you treat children?
Dr. Ahmad sees some adolescents for stuttering.
How long will I need treatment?
Depends on the condition.  There is no way to know until evaluations are made and treatment plans are in place.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed an additional residency in psychiatry. A psychologist is a graduate of a Masters or a Phd program in psychology.

How are wellness and psychiatry linked?
Dr. Ahmad is uniquely focused on the synergies underlying wellness, the mind body connection, and brain chemistry. He provides individual treatment plans to manage these synergies.

What caused you to take such an interest in mind and body balance?
Before I became a psychiatrist I spent a decent amount of time working in medicine. During my training and subsequent years of practice, with the evolution of psychopharmacology came a huge debate over a lack of understanding psychiatric conditions. Too many treatment plans relied on medicine alone. This led me to collaborate more frequently with endocrinologists and understand that psychiatric conditions usually are not independent of medical conditions, and visa versa. When people are medically sick, they are more prone to psychiatric issues.  And people with mood disorders have a much larger prevalence of heart conditions, diabetes, and asthma—anywhere from two to four times higher. Not to mention it’s harder for them emotionally to adhere to guidelines for healthy living.

The problem is that the majority of mental health conditions are not treated by mental health professionals. They are treated by primary care physicians who are overloaded with patients and do not always have the expertise to understand how people need to be taught about their disorders. I walk that fine line between medicine and psychiatry.
Being a doctor is not about writing prescriptions. Being a doctor means being a teacher. I not only treat people—I teach people. So when I want to make a difference in someone’s life, I don’t focus on just one specific part of the body. It’s never, “the problem is above the neck and that is what I’m going to treat.” I’m a doctor. I’m going to teach you about your body from the head to the toe. Because personal wellness demands taking the bigger picture into account.

What caused you to incorporate wellness services into your practice and treatment plans?
For many years, I lectured other physicians on how to treat psychiatric illness. One of the most intriguing issues that came up in discussion during these lectures and conferences was the fact that psychiatric patients have a higher incidence of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other illnesses. In fact, patients with psychiatric illness have as many as 3-4 times the risk for these medical conditions. Even though patients were referred to me for their psychiatric issues, I seek to provide them with treatment that addresses both psychiatric and potentially underlying, contributing or resulting medical issues. Thanks to my background in medicine, I am also focused on how psychopharmaceutical medicines may be contributing to these medical conditions, especially obesity, and how genetics, hormones, lifestyle and other factors could be better understood and applied in treatment plans for my patients.

Why would I see a psychiatrist for weight management?
Weight management supervision by a medical doctor is optimal and advisable for patients with physical and medical risk factors. Psychiatrists are M.D.’s with additional training that makes them uniquely suited to understanding emotional issues that can underlie over or under-eating, in addition to any hormonal issues that can interfere with optimal metabolism. Dr. Ahmad’s approach to weight management brings all of this background to bear in understanding medical causes and implications as well as behavioral and cognitive components in his patient care.

Are you supportive of using supplements?
Clinical trials have found certain dietary supplements effective in the treatment of some medical conditions as well as in weight loss. The use of supplements has become an integral part of my medical practice and for some treatment plans over the years.

How do you define personal wellness?
Wellness takes into account healthy behaviors that you can learn, implement and abide by to live a fruitful life. As you age, the concept of personal wellness will change—your behaviors must evolve. Diets and exercise routines that work for someone at twenty-five will not necessarily work at fifty-five.

As we age, what are the biggest roadblocks we face in attaining personal wellness?
As we get older our responsibilities pile up. As of a result of that, our stress increases. This releases numerous hormones in the body that lead to significant problems. One of these problem hormones is called cortisone. Cortisone can influence cardiovascular conditions, lead to obesity, raise blood sugar, spur weight gain and even inflict kidney damage.

Another roadblock we face as we get older is sarcopenia—the loss of muscle mass and strength. If we don’t focus on maintaining our bodies and continue to live by our old principles, the lost muscle will be replaced by fat. Our eating pattern has to change. A slowing metabolism has to be countered with a controlled and monitored calorie intake. Our exercise pattern has to change. That doesn’t necessarily mean exercising more, but exercising differently. A six-mile run might not expend calories as effectively as it once did.

Why is personalized treatment so important to you?
Our individual bodies are a function of both our genetics and our environment. A patient who is Croatian, another who is South Indian, a Caucasian—they all can’t be treated with the same principles or methods. Their lifestyle, their food intake, what they eat, how frequently they eat, whether or not they believe in exercise: all of those things are different and unique depending on environment. Personal genetics can limit a patient’s ability to exercise, eat soy, and numerous other things. Not everyone can row, bike, or go gluten-free.

As a doctor, you need to get to know the person. What is their psychological makeup? Is the family involved or are they individually responsible for their own wellbeing? Once you understand these things you can begin to make a difference. Even if two patients need a similar treatment, I have to teach them about the process in ways that are tailored to their individual understanding. It’s not just about recommending a different shake or diet plan. Personalized medicine means sympathizing with the forces behind someone’s thinking and translating your analysis in a way that makes it easy to digest.

How does your background in psychiatry aid the effectiveness of the center’s weight management program?
Food is an addiction. We eat not only for sustenance, but for emotional satisfaction. And it’s this emotional hunger that leads to binge eating. Most of the people who implement diet plans have not been trained in behavioral health. So in the short term, people might lose weight while dieting. But they have failed to understand the psychological issues which led to an unhealthy lifestyle to begin with. My goal as a psychiatrist is to not only deal with the medical condition of the weight issue, but also uncover the emotional disorders that initially caused the over eating.

What are the most common psychological causes of over eating?
People who are feeling sad, feeling lonely, feeling anxious—those moods contribute to increased food intake. It’s hard enough for people who aren’t feeling this way to adhere to diet plans. What are the chances someone struggling with self-worth and feelings of hopelessness will? Probably nil.

What is body composition and why is it more important than knowing your weight?
Let’s say you get on a scale and you’ve lost ten pounds. Those ten pounds could very well be lost muscle, not lost fat. Body composition takes into account the percentages of muscle, fat and water that make up the body. Knowing that allows me to tailor the patient’s diet to get each of those components to a healthy level. So I’m actually against the term “weight loss.” What I like to teach is “body composition change.

How does the center’s emphasis on balancing physical and mental health help the patient make a positive body composition change?
At the core of this emphasis is the Balance Body Mind triangle. Three points: mindset, discipline and persistence. Success happens when the patient A) has the mindset to seek help; B) is ready to be taught the discipline it takes to manage weight; and C) is willing to be consistent and persistent in employing that discipline in the future.

Human beings are prone to relapses. We forget things very quickly, and very easily. Mental discipline and persistence are keys to truly modifying behavior. Without behavioral and lifestyle change, it is very difficult to attain the ideal body composition for physical health and wellness. Dr. Ahmad is there to provide support to his patients as they endeavor to make these lasting changes.

Do people keep weight off when they lose it?
Lifestyle change requires tools and support for longevity. With those in place, weight management is possible.

What is the average weight loss on Optifast®?
52 lbs is the average weight loss, though individual results may vary.