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Confused whether to see a psychologist or a psychiatrist? We’re here to help you make that decision

Published on:30 August 2020, 17:01pm IST
People often get confused between psychologists and psychiatrists whilst seeking professional help. So we dediced to decode both the professions for you to help you make better decisions.
Chetna Pattnaik
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Here’s help if you want to seek help for your mental health woes. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Finally, we as a society are openly talking about mental health and are opening ourselves up to the idea of getting professional help. That said, many of us don’t know where to begin. Who is the right person to reach out to for mental health woes: a psychiatrist or psychologist?

Well, both of them study the brain, emotions, feelings and thoughts. And yet, their area of expertise are not the same. Here’s a guide on whom you can reach out for help:

What’s common between them?
Both professionals aim to treat patients dealing with mental health issues and have an in-depth understanding of the working of the human mind. It is due to their overlapping duties that we tend to interchangeably use these terms.

So, let’s take a closer look at what it means to be a psychologist versus a psychiatrist
A psychologist can be said to have a deeper understanding of the human mind and behaviour than psychiatrists.

There are two ways to pursue being a psychologist. After graduating in psychology, you can either go for a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) or a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy).

Recognize your problem. Talk to your close ones and seek help.  Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Psychologists master in psychological theories, developmental psychology, human personality, and related fields.

On the other hand, one becomes a psychiatrist, after attending medical school and receiving an MD. That is not it. It is followed by a four-year residency program, where they gain expertise in psychopathology and mental health.

Their evaluation techniques are starkly different…
Talking about their evaluation techniques and treatment methods, both of them use structured clinical interviews and undertake psychological testing to get to understand the analyze the real situation of the patient.

However, in the process of psychotherapy, it involves seeing a licensed psychologist who can help you overcome your emotional difficulties given their profound understanding of the human mind and its behavioural tendencies. Psychotherapy requires you to explore yourself in the process of having a conversation with a psychologist, who supports you in the venture of self-discovery and improvement. Psychotherapy provides you with a mental map to keep your progress on track.

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Don’t let the stigma stop you from getting help. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

On the other hand, psychiatrists lay extensive emphasis on the biological and neurological aspects of mental illness or ailment. There is a wide range of pharmacological solutions for your mental health issues, be it depression, anxiety or something else—they are the most effective treatment for mood disorders. And it is only a psychiatrist who can prescribe you what medications to take.

So, it is safe to say that even though psychologists and psychiatrists have different ways in which they approach mental health both these professionals provide us with tangible support to overcome our emotional battles.

So, whom should you consult?
In order to make that decision, you need to go ahead and schedule a consultation session with them. Thanks to the growing recognition of mental health as a serious concern that finding a mental health care professional has become a one-click job. So, if you are dealing with mental and emotional turmoil, the first thing is to recognize the issue and seek professional help, regardless of whether it comes from psychology or psychiatry.

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Only a psychiatrist can prescribe you what medications to take in case of mental illness and ailment. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

In the end, it is based on the information you provide, that a professional can help you in the right direction.  Remember, that to acknowledge your ailment and accept that you need help is already your first step towards healing. And once you have decided to seek help from the right source, let no societal stigma pull you behind.

Chetna Pattnaik Chetna Pattnaik

Understanding fitness the hard way, Chetna has finally learnt to strike a balance between her protein shake and her beer and making room for her writing desk and her gym at the same time.