BiographyDr. Sewell was born and raised in Des Moines, IA. He attended public schools and graduated in the top 3% of his high school class. He spent four years at Grinnell College in Grinnell, IA where he graduated with honors with a BA in Biology. He attended medical school at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, IA. At graduation, he was given an award for student service. He completed the first two years of his psychiatry residency at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM. He completed his psychiatry residency at the University of California, San Diego and was awarded the Chairman’s prize for research excellence during the psychiatry residency. Following residency, he completed a fellowship in geriatric psychiatry at UCSD. Following completion of his geriatric psychiatry fellowship, Dr. Sewell was appointed to the faculty of the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry. Dr. Sewell currently fills a number of roles at UC San Diego which include: Medical Director of the Senior Behavioral Health Program, Director of the Geropsychiatry Fellowship Program, Co-director of the Memory Aging and Resilience Clinic, and Associate Director for the UC San Diego Hartford Foundation Center of Excellence in Geriatric Psychiatry. For the past three years in a row, Dr. Sewell has been named a Top Doc in San Diego.
Research InterestsDr. Sewell’s current research interests include: 1) the use of the neuropsychological test, the Clock Drawing Test (CDT), to distinguish older patients with major depression from older patients with major depression and early dementia; 2) unrecognized medical illness as the cause of behavioral disturbance in patients with dementia; 3) the use of aroma therapy to reduce agitation in patients with dementia; 4) sex, aging, and dementia, 5) metoclopramide-associated tardive dyskinesia; and 6) the use of atypical antipsychotic medications in older patients.
Clinical FocusHe spent approximately 75% of his clinical hours working with patients admitted to the Senior Behavioral Health Inpatient Unit at UCSD Hillcrest Medical Center. About half of the inpatients are experiencing severe behavioral disturbance as a complication of dementia and about half are experiencing problems with depression or anxiety but do not have dementia. Occasionally, he treats older patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. He works closely with a multi-disciplinary team that includes a geriatric internist, neuropsychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, and nurses. His work frequently includes family therapy. About 25% of his clinical time is spent providing outpatient medication management and long-term psychotherapy for adults of all ages.