Although they sound similar, psychiatrists and psychologists are actually quite different. Today we cover the differences between these two important mental health providers so you can decide which is right for you.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors have graduated from medical school, have had an internship, 3 or more years of residency, and provide treatment of mental health disorders. Psychologists have a degree in an area of psychology and are not medical doctors. A psychologist can however have a PhD in clinical or counseling psychology. Because psychologists are not medical doctors, they cannot provide medical treatment like psychiatrists can.
Both psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to practice psychotherapy – talking with patients about their mental health issues. Psychologists look closely at behavior such as tracking sleep patterns, eating patterns, and negative thought processes that may be contributing to the problem. Psychiatrists have a stronger understanding of biology and neurochemistry so they are going to assess your physical health first to exclude any medical issues.
Which Is Right For Me?
The biggest advantage of seeing a psychiatrist over a psychologist is that they have the ability to provide medication if behavioral changes are not enough to improve your mood. They can also rule out any other medical issues that may be causing your illness. Psychiatrists are readily available to work with your family doctor or specialists to create a collaborative plan, and they’ve worked in a variety of settings during their residency.
If you’re still not sure which is right for you, talk it over with your primary care physician or research how to find a psychiatrist. Psychiatry and psychology are both built around strong relationships so it’s most important that you find a healthcare provider that you feel comfortable with.