Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD or DO) specializing in treating a wide range of illnesses affecting the mind and brain. Thanks to rigorous and extensive training, psychiatrists are authorized to assess both mental and physical aspects of psychological problems, and may prescribe medications accordingly.
Some of the reasons people see psychiatrists include:
- Child behavior problems at home or school
- Sibling rivalry
- Regressed behavior due to change in the family like move child birth
- Separation anxiety
- Oppositional Behavior
- Learning issues
- Self-harm potential
- Electronic media excessive use
- Panic attacks
- Hearing voices
- Having hallucinations
- Suicidal thoughts
- Feelings of helplessness and/or hopelessness
Despite these being problems of the mind, these afflictions can affect all reaches of our lives, including our relationships, jobs, and academic pursuits. When these conditions persist over time, not only can they become increasingly complex, but serious consequences can spill into all corners of our lives.
While we commonly think of these issues affecting our mind, they can also speak to problems of the brain. The distinction between these is that we can see the brain, but the mind is the invisible, transcendent realm of thought, feelings, beliefs, and imagination. Psychiatrists specialize in both. For this reason, they often go beyond question/answer sessions and discussions. They’ll perform examinations, do laboratory tests, and order brain scans. In so doing, they seek any physical links between problems of the mind and physical symptoms of the brain.
After compiling data from all testing, they’re able to reach correct clinical diagnoses. (“Diagnoses” is defined as symptoms clusters identified and agreed upon by the American Psychiatric Association in what they call DSM-5, which is 5th edition (published 2013) of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).
Psychiatrists can employ multiple treatment strategies. These can include Psychotherapy, medications, psycho-social interventions, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and beyond.
In regards to medications, several classes are often used to great results:
- Antidepressants are used to treat depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), borderline personality disorder (BPD) and eating disorders
- Stimulants can treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Antipsychotic medications can treat psychotic symptoms (delusions and hallucinations) of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and mood disorders
- Sedatives and hypnotics can treat anxiety and sleeping problems
Mood stabilizers/anti-epileptics can treat bipolar disorder
Psychiatrists aim to put you on a path to better controlling conditions that may be interfering in your ability to lead a stable, manageable life. Contact us at American Wellness Center if you’d like to explore the science of the mind to see if there’s a solution applicable to your life.
More Psychiatric Resources:
- American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry
- American Association for Emergency Psychiatry
- World Psychiatric Association
- American Association of Community Psychiatrists
- American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
- American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
- Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine
- Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
Programs Offered by Our Psychiatric Department:
- Executive Guidance And Coaching Program
Family Paradigm Analysis
Frequently Asked Questions
Sometimes. Each insurance company plan is different, so it’s imperative you check your specific coverage. Recently, insurance companies have begun expanding coverage for mental health, as employers realize mental health affects the workforce to a greater degree than previously thought. Today, more patients are finding they can get at least a portion of their services reimbursed.
If your coverage brochure or booklet isn’t clear, contact your insurance company directly to see what is covered. If needed, we can try to help you figure out what your coverage allows and then budget accordingly.
In general, neurologists treat abnormalities of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, whereas psychiatrists treat disorders of the mind related to the brain. The distinction between “mind” and “brain” is that the
brain is the physical, visible organ, whereas the mind is the invisible realm of thoughts, feelings, reactions, and so on.
It’s important to note that both clinicians often have extensive “cross-over” medical training, as the “brain” and “mind” clearly overlap, possibly presenting with similar physical and behavioral symptoms.
A neurologist is where to begin with more obvious physical or neurological symptoms, which may include conditions like epilepsy or movement disorders.
For other conditions that are more behaviorally or mentally rooted, like attention deficits, depression, or anxiety, it may be advisable start treatment with a psychiatrist.
Oftentimes, though, and especially for more severe concerns, both specialists can collaborate to provide ideal, broader treatment, since they tend to apply different strategies and management. But don’t worry about picking the “right” doctor at the outset. Our clinicians will always make appropriate referrals if they feel you or your child would benefit from additional evaluation or consultation.
If you’re in doubt, please ask your clinician directly.
There is no easy answer to this question. Every person’s needs differs, depending on the issue, the severity, and the patient’s desires regarding ongoing support.
Some patients, for example, might seek clinical help to simply get tools for managing their situation for a long-term self-guided approach. Other patients may appreciate having an unbiased, supportive professional to confide in for an ongoing, long-term basis, especially if their lifestyle stresses are expected to continue for an extended period. Ideally, their clinician will work with the patient to create a treatment path unique to the individual.
That’s why “how often, and for how long, should we meet?” is a great question to ask your clinician during your initial consultation.
While a good clinician would never guarantee a “set number of sessions” to reach your targets, they can usually give you a general estimate for achieving short- and/or long-term treatment goals, per your desires. More importantly, they can tell you why that plan should be a good one in working toward your mental health goal.
Generally, though, therapy sessions tend to be scheduled once a week, but intensive intervention may benefit from more frequent sessions.
When medication is involved, things change somewhat, because every body processes medication differently, and the management of dosages means appointment regularity can vary. Once your dosage response is deemed “stable” by you and your psychiatrist, visits may be recommended monthly, intermittently, or as needed.
The most important factor in working with any clinician is your comfort and fit with them as a person, because trust and openness are needed ingredients for successful treatment.
When properly licensed and qualified, all three of these clinicians’ expertise is suited to treating a wide range of mental health needs and afflictions. If, however, medication is required for successful treatment, patients will need to consult a psychiatrist, as they are the only mental health practitioner licensed for dispensing pharmaceuticals.
For many patients, counseling and therapeutic treatment is all they need for a good mental health program. If so, then a counselor or psychologist whose personality, background, and lifestyle is a good “fit” is key in establishing the trust and camaraderie needed for successful therapy. We encourage our patients are to research our clinicians’ background, training, and interests to help find the right “fit” for them.
Have a look at our clinical team here to see who might suit your preferences and needs.