Psychiatrists: How to Find the Right One

Psychiatrists specialize in studying, diagnosing, treating and preventing mental illness and substance abuse disorders. They are trained to understand the interrelation between physical and mental health. They undergo four years of medical school training and at least three additional years in a psychiatric residency.

The realm of mental health is vast and has its own medical sector but psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals who can prescribe psychiatric medication. Although family physicians and general practice medical health professionals can prescribe psychiatric drugs, they may not have the training necessary to diagnose particular mental health conditions.

Difference Between Psychiatry and Psychology

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have graduated from medical school. They can either be an MD (doctor of medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine), Due to their training as medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication which means that they can treat both physical and mental aspects of mental health disorders

Psychologists, however, have doctoral degrees (PhDs or PsyDs) in the field of psychology and they are qualified to provide psychological assessment and talk therapy but they are not licensed to prescribe medications in most states as they are not medical doctors. In the event that a patient of theirs has any physical issues that contribute to their mental health disorder, they refer them to psychiatrists or other medical professionals.
While some psychiatrists have advanced degrees in psychology and are able to perform psychotherapy, most psychiatrists don’t offer psychotherapy as part of their services. Instead, psychotherapists consult with them to help determine the medical causes of psychiatric disorders and the dosage of medication. Some psychiatrists don’t see people for treatments of mental health issues but rather focus solely on advocacy and research, as well as studies of psychiatric conditions across cultures.
A lot of psychiatry work focuses on the medical side of the brain and its functioning (while psychology tries to understand the human mind with regards to consciousness and development environment.) This means that psychiatrists are usually able to help people under treatment to consider conditions like anxiety or depression in relation to the operation of the brain and the way abnormalities affect its functioning.

Different Fields of Psychiatry

After attending medical school, psychiatrists complete a residency for four years where they learn about diagnosing and treating mental health issues. Often, these psychiatric residencies are done at inpatient rehab centers, general hospital psychiatric wards, or psychiatric hospitals. They may choose to specialize in any of a number of fields that include:
  • Child Psychiatry where they focus on the treatment of psychiatric disorders in children or adolescents
  • Addiction Psychiatry where they study the treatment of addiction
  • Neuropsychiatry which focuses on the neurological basis of psychiatric conditions
  • Forensic Psychiatry which is the study of psychiatry and the law. An example of this type of psychiatry is evaluating defendants to see if they are competent to stand trial.

When Is Psychiatric Treatment Recommended?

A lot of people suffering from mental health issues may benefit from therapy, but not all conditions can be treated with therapy alone. Sometimes mental health disorders like depression, PTSD, anxiety, and other conditions may be so debilitating that medication may be prescribed. There are also some persistent conditions like bipolar or schizophrenia where treatment with medication may be necessary in order to ensure the stability and safety of the person under treatment.
In cases like that medication helps them to better manage their mental health. There is no one course of treatment that works for everyone, but it may be helpful to consult with a qualified medical provider to see if psychiatry may be helpful.