Frequently Asked Questions
What is a psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health and emotional problems. Because of extensive medical training, the psychiatrist understands the body’s functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illness. The psychiatrist is thus the mental health professional and physician best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress. Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health.
Like other medical illnesses, mental health range from severe and life-threatening disorders to relatively mild and self-limiting conditions. Approximately 2.8% of the adult population suffers from severe mental health, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or from the more common, yet disabling, anxiety and depressive disorders or from alcohol and other substance abuse.
How do psychiatrists tell what is wrong with their patients?
Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical and psychological tests that provide a complete picture of a patient’s physical and mental state. Their education and years of clinical experience equip them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses, evaluate the entire medical and psychological data, make a diagnosis, and develop a treatment plan.
What treatments do psychiatrists use?
Psychiatrists use a wide variety of treatments – including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, and hospitalization – according to the needs of each patient.
Psychotherapy is a systematic treatment method in which, during regularly scheduled meetings, the psychiatrist and patient discuss troubling problems and feelings. The physician helps patients understand the basis of these problems and find solutions. Depending on the extent of the problem, treatment may take just a few sessions over one or two weeks, or many sessions over several years.?Psychiatrists use many forms of psychotherapy. There are psychotherapies that help patients change behaviors or thought patterns, psychotherapies that help patients explore the effect of past relationships and experiences on present behaviors, psychotherapies that treat troubled couples or families together, and more treatments that are tailored to help solve other problems in specific ways.
Information provided by the American Psychiatric Association.