What's a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrist: "A physician (M.D.) who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses and substance use disorders."

It takes many years of educational training to become a psychiatrist: college, then medical school and then 4 years of supervised internship/residency training in the field of psychiatry. This extensive medical training enables the psychiatrist to understand the body's functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illnesses.

"The psychiatrist is thus the mental health professional and physician best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress." (American Psychiatric Association - www.psych.org)

The practice of psychiatry is both an art and a science. A good psychiatrist must be able to distinguish between the biological and the psychological, as the treatment for either cause is often very different. It is easy to say that a symptom is biological or that a symptom is psychological. It is an art to be able to distinguish between the two. Psychiatric treatment works best when it is a collaborative partnership between the psychiatrist and the patient. The role of the psychiatrist is to provide the patient with as much information as possible so that they may make informed and educated decisions regarding their treatment.

What is psychiatric treatment?

Psychiatric treatment: often utilizes medications or psychotherapy or both. The major classes of medications include sleep aids; anti-anxiety, antidepressant and anti-psychotic medications; and mood stabilizers. The type of medication considered for a person's treatement is often determined by a number of factors: symptoms, diagnosis, severity, family history and previous treatment.