FAQs about Psychiatrists
What’s the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?
Within the field of mental health a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist are trained to treat a variety of mental health conditions. Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors who specialize in mental health. Sometimes physical illness or biological imbalances can give rise to symptoms of mental illness. The medical background of the psychiatrist allows them to take blood, order certain tests and prescribe medications in order to attempt to correct these imbalances.
Clinical Psychologists tend to focus on the psychological mechanisms that explain both normal and abnormal behavior. They will often specialize in an area such as eating disorders, forensic psychology, addiction and so on. The approach to treatment is often educative, helping clients to understand how feelings, thoughts and behaviors interact, but there are other forms of therapy.
Sometimes, as in hospitals or clinical settings, the two professions work closely together, with Psychiatrists recommending psychological therapies and vice versa. Some mental illnesses seem to benefit more from a combination of medical and psychological interventions.
Are There Specialist Psychiatrists?
Yes. Psychiatry is a medical specialism but there are sub-specialties in which a psychiatrist may choose to focus on a particular issue such as addiction, family therapy, geriatric psychiatry, schizophrenia, or any of the other areas in mental health. Don’t be afraid to ask who the specialist is with regard to your needs.
How Do Psychiatrists Work?
Many psychiatrists work as part of a team, but they can also work alone in private practice. They work in hospitals, clinics, out patient facilities, community teams and sometimes in large private organizations, as well as the military services.
How Do I Get to See a Psychiatrist?
There are different routes in. It’s often a good thing to visit your family doctor first and explain your symptoms and the reasons you feel a visit to a psychiatrist would be useful. They may run some tests in order to assess whether there is a physical cause for the way you are feeling. They may also recommend a specific person for your needs. Alternatively, you could check to see whether there are free clinics in your area, or you could browse the American Psychiatric Association website for various provider of mental health services.
What Will the Psychiatrist Ask Me?
The questions are likely to be very practical in nature. They will be interested to know why you’ve come to see them. They will probably pick up on the information you volunteer in order to get a broader picture about you, your life and background, as well as the specific issues you have come to see them about. Basically they will try to establish a sense of you as a person so that they can fit their help and treatment (if it comes to this) into your lifestyle.
What Should I Ask Them?
Ask them about the things on your mind. If you’ve received a diagnosis, get information about what it means. Ask about your treatment, medication, in fact anything relating to your situation and recovery.
Can They Lock Me Up?
You are probably thinking about emergency hospitalization for evaluation (the psychiatric hold). Typically this is for a short-duration of no more than 72 hours and is only applied in the most extreme periods of mental health crisis where someone is perceived as being a danger to themself and/or others. The Treatment Advocacy Center has more information about State laws in this regard.