Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 11/19/2021
If you’re dealing with a mental health issue, there are a variety of ways you can seek help.
One potentially beneficial way? Seeing a psychiatrist.
Not sure what a psychiatrist does? Or maybe you’re fuzzy on the difference between psychology and psychiatry. Maybe you want to know when the right time to see a psychiatrist is.
We’re here to answer all your questions.
A psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor. That means they either hold a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Plus, it means they’ve completed a residency in psychiatry.
Psychiatry is a medical field that involves preventing and treating behavioral disorders.
Because of the degree a psychiatrist holds, they’re able to prescribe medicine.
Therein lies the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist — the latter cannot dole out medication, as they have a different degree, often a Doctor of Philosophy or Doctor of Psychology degree.
Types of medications psychiatrists may prescribe include:
Antipsychotics (prescribed for things like hallucinations and delusions)
Hypnotics (can help with sleep issues)
Antidepressants (for anxiety and depressive disorders)
Stimulants (like ones used to treat ADHD)
Mood stabilizers (often prescribed for bipolar disorder)
Sedatives and anxiolytics (used to deal with anxiety and insomnia)
Along with the ability to prescribe medication, a psychiatrist can engage in talk therapy and also order medical laboratory tests.
Now that you know what a psychiatrist does, here’s when you should consider scheduling time to meet with one.
Do you go through periods of feeling extremely sad and can’t pull yourself out of it? Or maybe you get really angry and irritable?
These types of emotions are normal, but if they feel overwhelming or like you can’t shake them, it’s possible you are dealing with depression.
A psychiatrist can help assess what may be going on with your emotions and provide a treatment plan.
From insomnia to feeling extreme fatigue and wanting to sleep around the clock, there are a variety of mental health disorders that can cause sleep issues.
In fact, it’s thought that 50 percent to 80 percent of clients in a psychiatric practice deal with chronic sleep problems. On the flip side, lack of sleep can also lead to mental duress.
Did you know that approximately half of people with substance abuse disorder also experience a mental disorder?
Substance abuse is defined by the inability to control your use of drugs and/or alcohol. Some people use these things as a way of self-medicating because they’re dealing with things like anxiety, depression or other disorders.
Medication prescribed by a psychiatrist can help address a mental disorder, helping with substance abuse in the process.
Missing deadlines? Having a hard time concentrating on projects? Floundering in meetings? None of these things are going to make you a rockstar at work.
Even worse, this type of behavior could put your livelihood on the line. ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is just one of many conditions that can impact your focus.
Other mood disorders (like depression and anxiety) can also affect your concentration on the job.
We’re going to talk about depression...again. Noticing a theme here?
People with depression will often isolate themselves from social isolation. In turn, this can just feed the depression and make it worse.
The best way to improve your circumstances is to address your depression and seek help.
Nervous feelings are normal every once in a while, but if you find that you’re overrun with anxiety more days than not, it’s worth making an appointment to see someone.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, if those feelings stay persistent for more than six months, you may have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
There are a number of other mental health conditions related to anxiety, too — and a professional can help you determine if you’re dealing with one.
A psychiatrist is a mental health professional who holds a medical degree, is licensed and can prescribe medication.
Along with being able to prescribe medication, a psychiatrist can engage in behavioral therapy as a way of helping patients.
If you’re dealing with a mental illness or disorder (like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or something else), it may be beneficial to seek the help of a psychiatrist.
They can give you a psychiatric evaluation, leading to a proper diagnosis and mental health treatment that’ll work for your needs.
To find one, you could ask for a recommendation from your primary care provider or hims offers online psychiatry appointments, which may be easier to fit into your schedule.