Psychiatrists: Who We Are & What We Do

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Psychiatrists: Who We Are & What We Do
Is a Psychiatrist the right expert for you?

What is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a physician first. Only medical doctors can be psychiatrists, and only psychiatrists (not counselors, social workers, or psychologists) can prescribe medications or other medical therapies for the treatment of psychological problems.  In many cases, these Pros work in conjunction with counselors, therapists, social workers, psychologists, or other practitioners who provide talk therapy for the client. Psychiatrists may also provide talk therapy or counseling, in addition to monitoring the medication they’ve prescribed.

How can a psychiatrist help me?
The first thing a psychiatrist will do is an evaluation in which you’ll  answer questions regarding your symptoms. From the evaluation, the Pro should be able to determine the severity of your symptoms and how much they are interfering with your goals, relationships, work, school, and quality of life. Once your Pro has a clear picture of the medical problem, he or she will go over treatment options, which may include therapy and/or medication.

As with other Experts, regular talk therapy sessions help patients articulate their emotional problems and teach new ways to change negative patterns and behaviors. You may also talk about unresolved experiences as a means to work through the past and move forward. If the problem is chemical, medications are brought into the mix to bring the mind and body into balance.

Since psychiatrists are medical doctors, they can make clinical judgments as to whether you may have a non-psychiatric medical condition. For example, sleep apnea, thyroid problems, or anemia may all cause fatigue and low energy they are also two common symptoms of depression. Psychiatrists can also assess whether your current medications are interacting to cause anxiety, insomnia or irritability.

What Can a Psychiatrist Help Me With?

Psychiatrists treat a vast array of mental health issues ranging from depression to marital problems, panic disorders to more serious psychological conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

What Should I Expect from a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist can offer a broad spectrum of help related to mental, emotional and behavioral problems within an intimate relationship. They help to identify the root of discord and also to present treatment options if they are appropriate for you. If you are already taking psychiatric medications, psychiatrists have the background to explain the risks and benefits of those medications and any potential interactions with other medications you are taking.

For example, there are medications that can decrease the effectiveness of birth control pills or medications that may be harmful to the fetus if you are pregnant. Psychiatrists also investigate whether there may be any underlying physical causes or chemical imbalances leading to emotional distress, and they can treat accordingly.

In times of crisis, they are the only mental health professional licensed to admit a patient to the hospital.

Finally, they can conduct physical examinations as well as order and interpret any laboratory tests they may think may be necessary to diagnose the problem.

Education and Credentials

Training consists of four years of medical school, followed by one year of internship and at least three years of psychiatric residency. Psychiatrists are required to have a valid license to practice psychiatry, and each state has different licensing requirements, but they all require applicants to pass a written exam.

Most people who specialize in this field take examinations given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology to receive board certification. Board certification is a good thing to look for because it presupposes the doctor has demonstrated sufficient knowledge in his/her profession.

Nuts & Bolts

If the psychiatrist is working in tandem with a therapist, and assuming the client will be taking medication, weekly or bi-weekly appointment will be scheduled to make sure that the client is not experiencing uncomfortable side effects. Once the client’s medication is leveled out, they may return once every one to three months, as long as there are no problems.

If the Expert is working as the sole health care provider, weekly 50-minute sessions are the norm.

Psychiatrists may also work in hospitals, community hospitals, as well as community health centers.

To begin searching for a Psychiatrist in your area, please click here.

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