How to Know If You Need a Psychiatrist
I use the word “doctor” quite liberally and often use it interchangeably with “psychiatrist.” The reason is quite simple – psychiatrists are, in fact doctors, they are just specialists. Yes, that’s right, your psychiatrist has all the rights and privileges that any other doctor has and could probably remove your spleen, if the occasion called for it.
Nevertheless, there are some crucial differences between “doctors” in general and “psychiatrists” in particular. And sometimes you need a psychiatrist and sometime any old doctor will do. So how do you know if you need a psychiatrist?
Why Would You Need a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors with specialized training in the area of mental health. So instead of just being a general practitioner, they attended extra schooling to specialize in mental health. A psychiatrist has about a decade of schooling beyond high school (depending on the country).
This is not to be confused with psychologist who is not a medical doctor and instead is a specialist in psychology. They are therapists and cannot prescribe medication.
Nor is this to be confused with your family doctor, who is a general practitioner. A general practitioner’s job is to take care of the daily cuts and scrapes of life and to know when to refer a patient to someone else.
Mental Illness and General Practitioners
It is my opinion that anyone with a mental illness should have a proper mental health evaluation by a psychiatric professional – a psychiatrist. General practitioners do a world of harm by not being able to recognize complex mental illnesses, often diagnosing “depression” when it’s not depression at all. General practitioners don’t diagnose cancer – a specialist does that – and the same should be true of a mental illness.
After you’ve been properly diagnosed by a psychiatrist it may then be possible to have your condition managed through a general practitioner either now or in the future, but only if you’re a bog-standard case of something simple or have been stable for a long time.
When Do You Need a Psychiatrist?
So, outside of diagnosis when do you need a psychiatrist?
- Any time you need more than one psychiatric medication (generally)
- If you have more than one diagnosis
- Any time you aren’t getting better under the care of a general practitioner
- If you’ve failed two or more antidepressants
- If you’re experiencing complex side effects
- Any time you wish to change your psychiatric medication
- If you disagree with your doctor's treatment
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with a general practitioner – they’re just not a specialist, that’s all. Because remember, a psychiatrist sees patients all day, every day, who are just like you, a general practitioner does not. A general practitioner does physicals and eye exams and prescribes antibiotics and looks down people’s throats all day. None of that is going to help you with a case of bipolar disorder.
Tracy, N. (2012, June 21). How to Know If You Need a Psychiatrist, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2012/06/how-to-know-if-you-need-a-psychiatrist
Author: Natasha Tracy
Yes, psychiatrists specialize in mental illness and anxiety disorders are one type of those mental illnesses. I would recommend that your friend seek out a psychotherapist (psychologist) and a psychiatrist for help.
- Natasha Tracy
7 years of going to my current doctor for depression and mood issues and not getting proper treatment (He honestly tried to prescribe me self esteem books, which I really do not feel like that is my issue) I asked about seeing a psychiatrist because I can't keep living like this. I'm okay for a couple weeks, maybe a month and then I crash into depression and stuff - and asking for mood stabilizing medication from my doctor is like pulling teeth. He replied that a psychiatrist wouldn't want to see me because they're really busy and only want to deal with people suffering severe issues like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
I've tried explaining to him it does effect my life and work, having distracting breakdowns but he doesn't seem to take it seriously. I end up usually getting less then a months worth of antidepressants and just not going to the doctor's for months after an appointment because visiting him causes great stress because he doesn't listen or try to actually help me. My family worships him because they've had him for 40+ years. I can't go to the doctor's office without crying and getting worked up because of the stress.
Is there a easier way to see a psychiatrist? Thank you.
I'm sorry you're going through this. It must be very hard. You need to contact a professional such as a psychologist or a doctor for help. You could also contact a helpline. Please see this page for more information on helplines and resources: http://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
I hope you feel better soon.
- Natasha Tracy
I've been to see a psychologist about my mental health state.
At first he said I had clinical depression and anxiety until I told him how wild I was a few months back..I was literally buzzing from head to toe for a month!
He's arranged for me to see a psychiatrist (waiting for appointment) all he said to me was I definitely have a mood disorder and he'd like me to see the psychiatrist for a diagnosis??
What should I expect?
He basically knows my lows are extremely low and my highs are mental..but I never feel normal w lol at least for the last couple of years! I'm always really depressed for a few months..on a massive high for a month and then somewhere a bit more happy than normal happy?
It don't make sense and I don't get it!? I'm frustrated and agitated too.
Help! What will the psychiatrist think of this?
I went to a GP for over a year who prescribed one psychiatric medication and I got progressively worse until I ended up in hospital. The hospital then referred me to another psychiatrist when I got out and that has made all the difference...
i have an headache from last 6 days.. n cant concentrate on my work.
I dont know whether i need a psychiatrist or not. So please suggegst.
I am getting angry in silly things whcih later i realize that i shouldnt be angry at all for that. I dont think i am stressed at work at all but I am nit enjoying my work.
I am becoming a short tempered man which is really screwing my personal life . I am not able to concentrate on anything always i want to do something some hiw I am getting distracted by giving some excuse.also thisbis impacting my personal as well as career growth.
Friends i really need help what should I do now? Whenever i am getting angry i am reqching at the top also ruining few stuffs at home whatever comes my way at that time. Eagerly waiting for a suggestion.
I was admitted to hospital for 6 weeks with severe depression and phycosis some years back i was never dx with anything , after going high from anti ds on a number of occassions my pdoc says its cyclothymia but I think that's wrong just wondered if you could shed some light on it
In my opinion, if you're dealing with issues from child hood, sexual abuse and trust, you need to speak to a psychologist - generally. It's always possible you will need a bit more help than a psychologist can offer, but I would start there if I were you.
- Natasha Tracy
Thanks in advance!
I recommend you take a look at the hotlines and resources page here and they can help you further.
Thanks for any input.
Sorry, I didn't mean to suggest that the systems were the same everywhere. I can't comment on the UK system of licensing as I'm not familiar with it.
I couldn't say what the average length of time is for a psychiatrist or psychologist to treat a mental illness however it is the psychiatrist's (or another doctor's) responsibility to do med checks periodically and that goes on for as long as you take medication.
Each person's experience is going to be different with a GP or a psychiatrist, certainly.
- Natasha Tracy
In the UK a Physciatrist gets one years extra training.If a physciatrist took out your spleen then sue the hell out of them because they are not qualified to do that.Its called a surgeon(and they get a lot of extra training not just one year.
A Physiologist has studied one field for more than the Psychiatrist has studied many and no they cant prescribe pills but a nurse practitioner can do that so whats the point.
I noticed from reading your posts that you have a fixation on physical illnesses that impact the mind understandable and if i suffered from Bi-polar i wouldn't need or want to go anywhere else.On these topics i trust you completely as you put stuff in terms a layperson can understand.However you protelyse on other subjects and ask tobe taken on faith with no supporting evidence to back you up.
Psychiatrists are good for physical ilness(maybe) but thats all.
Question for you(mainly as i dont know where to look.What is the average length of time for treatment of none physical illnesses treated by a psychiatrist and the average length of time when treated by a psychotherapist(non psychiatrist)
Finally,you criticize GP's but i have had two that both correctly diagnosed me and one psychiatrist that got it wrong.
Some GP's are good but depending on your illness all Physicists are wrong.
I actually have a great psychiatrist that I have been seeing for years. That's great if your symptoms are a bay for the most part but I think that it is important for people to know that if they are not getting better with their psychiatrist that it is okay to change him/her. I have a friend who is scared to change for offending him but her meds are clearly off.