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How to Know If You Need a Psychiatrist

Do you need a psychiatrist? Here's a checklist of reasons you may need a psychiatrist for mental illness. Your family doctor may not cut it for mental illness.

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?

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.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or GooglePlus or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar Burble, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

34 thoughts on “How to Know If You Need a Psychiatrist”

  1. Anyway, psychiatric care embrace complex medical treatment of mental disorders and relation somatic illnesses with emotional implications, as well. So, it is important to disclose the time where we need any psychiatric help and consultation, because each mental illness might progress to serious mental and somatic disease. Your seven critical observation to inevitable psychiatric examination exhibit grat contribute te comprehensive psychiatric treatment of patents with mental difficulties. But in daily medical and psychiatric practice the situation isn’t as simple as it seems in the first sight. There exist many prejudice about psychiatrist care system and people ignore and avoid psychiatric examination and treatment. as well. People with mental disorders are prone to visit non-psychiatrist doctors and others laic mental licks-pitle, because they think psychiatris treat only fool people. This and many other primitive attitudes to psychiatric profession profoundly ruins adequate psychiatric treatment and management of mental disorders, anywhere and at any time. To overcome this atavistic antipsychiatric view, it ought to make mental health care obligation for all population all around the world. Otherwise, the fate of numerous psychiatric patient would be miserable, like terrible mediaeval circumstances.

  2. My friend has been molested in her childhood n during teenage also. Now she is facing sleeping disorder and she cries more often. Does she need a visit to psychiatrist?

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