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A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can diagnose and treat mental, emotional and behavioral conditions. They can prescribe medications and other medical treatments.
What is a psychiatrist ?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who’s an expert in the field of psychiatry — the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological conditions. They can diagnose and treat these conditions.
What does a psychiatrist do ?
What conditions do psychiatrists treat ?
Psychiatrists can diagnose and treat several conditions, including :
Psychotherapy, often called “talk therapy” or “therapy” for short, is a treatment that involves talking with a trained mental healthcare professional to help identify and work through the factors that are affecting your mental health or may be triggering your mental health condition.
The goal of psychotherapy is to eliminate or control disabling or troubling thought and behavioral patterns so you can function better. Psychotherapy can be short-term or long-term depending on your symptoms and condition.
There are several different types of psychotherapy, including :
Psychiatrists can prescribe medications to help treat mental health conditions. These medications work to alter chemical signaling and communication within your brain, which can minimize some symptoms of certain psychiatric conditions. Psychiatrists often prescribe medications in combination with psychotherapy.
Classes of medications that psychiatrists typically prescribe include :
Psychiatrists sometimes use other treatment therapies for certain psychiatric conditions, including :
Much less common treatments include :
When should I see a psychiatrist ?
If you have any of the following symptoms or experiences, you may want to consider seeing a psychiatrist or telling your primary healthcare provider:
Remember, there’s no shame in having or seeking help for a mental health condition. The sooner you seek help and treatment, the sooner you’ll feel better.
What can I expect during an appointment with a psychiatrist ?
To get the most out of your appointment with your psychiatrist, it’s helpful to be prepared. Ways to prepare include :
What questions should I ask my psychiatrist?
It may be helpful to ask your psychiatrist the following questions during an appointment :
Types of Psychiatrists
Some psychiatrists take part in fellowships that can involve 1 to 2 years of research projects and training to learn to treat specific groups of people. Those can include :
This branch of psychiatry focuses on young children and teenagers and conditions that involve their behavior, well-being, and the way they think. These doctors may also talk with the families of their young patients.
This doctor deals with issues that touch mental health and the law. They may study mental conditions among people who are in prison. Some doctors may be called to a court to talk about the mental health of people accused of crimes, and even tell courts whether a person is able to stand trial. A forensic psychiatrist could also be asked to figure out whether a person might hurt other people.
Other specialties for psychiatrists
Doctors can go through training to practice in other areas, including :
What are the major psychiatric disorders ?
A mental health disorder is one that negatively affects your emotions, the way you think, or the way you act.
The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies several major psychiatric or mental health disorders :
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist ?
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a therapist ?
A therapist has a master’s degree in a mental health-related field such as psychology, counseling psychology or family therapy. They’re qualified to evaluate a person’s mental health and use therapeutic techniques, such as talk therapy. Examples of therapists include licensed social workers and licensed professional clinical counselors. A therapist can’t prescribe medication.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can diagnose and prescribe medicine and medical treatment for mental health conditions.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a neurologist ?
A neurologist is a medical doctor who diagnoses, treats and manages conditions of the brain and nervous system (brain, spinal cord and nerves). A neurologist knows the anatomy, function and conditions that affect your nerves and nervous system.
While neurologists and psychiatrists are both doctors that deal with conditions that affect your brain, a neurologist is more focused on the physical aspects and symptoms of the condition, and a psychiatrist is more focused on the cognitive and behavioral symptoms of the condition. Neurologists also diagnose and treat conditions that affect your nerves and spinal cord; a psychiatrist doesn’t work with these kinds of conditions.
Both doctors can prescribe medication, and both doctors may be involved with the management of certain conditions that affect your brain. For example, depression commonly occurs in people who have Parkinson’s disease or who’ve had a stroke.
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