Psychologists VS Psychiatrists: Understanding The Different Treatment Options

For those suffering from mental issues, like anxiety and/or depression, taking the first steps to seek treatment is often overwhelming. Choosing a doctor and finding the right medication can take time. When choosing a doctor for your treatment, it's important to understand the differences between psychologists and psychiatrists. While both help people with a variety of mental conditions, there are differences in what each can offer patients.

How Psychologists Treat Patients

Psychologists are not medical doctors, so they are unable to prescribe medications for their patients. They also don't diagnose illnesses.

Psychologist treatment consists of talk therapy for their patients. Psychotherapy allows patients to express their thoughts with a psychologist. Talking helps the patient in several ways.

  • Learn about their conditions
  • Understand feelings
  • Explore thoughts
  • Learn how behaviors affect their mental health

There are different approaches, but psychologists use one or more of four types of psychotherapy for their patients.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Humanistic
  • Psychodynamic
  • Eclectic theories

While all approaches differ in some ways, the main goal of psychotherapy is to help clients recognize positive and negative feelings and how they affect everyday life and thoughts. Psychotherapy is helpful for people of all ages.

How Psychiatrists Treat Patients

Psychiatrists are medical doctors and often prescribe medications along with therapy. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists often treat patients suffering from more severe types of mental illness that often require medication.

Psychologists diagnose and treat a wide range of mental issues and illnesses.

  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts

Psychiatrists' evaluations include a process to diagnose issues with thought processes, behaviors, and memory. Once diagnosed, the patient may receive medication along with psychotherapy and other treatment options.

  • Psychosocial interventions
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy ECT
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation VNS
  • Deep Brain Stimulation DBS
  • Light Therapy

A thorough psychiatric exam and health history helps the doctor make the correct diagnosis and treatment options for each patient.

Psychologist or Psychiatrist?

When deciding between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, keep in mind that psychologists do hold an advanced degree in clinical psychology. This requires intensive training for the treatment of mental disorders. So, while psychologists are not medical doctors, they do have adequate training to treat patients.

However, if you or a loved one is dealing with more serious mental issues, psychiatrists can offer more treatment options and medications. Discussing your mental issues with your family doctor is a good way to learn which type of therapy and doctor is right based on your overall and mental health. Talk to a local psychologist to learn morel