WHAT IS A PSYCHIATRIST?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis,treatment and prevention of mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological disturbance. A psychiatrist has completed medical school (is an M.D. or D.O.) and an additional four or more years of residency training in psychiatry.
People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, or frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing “voices.” Or they may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness and hopelessness or anxious feelings that never seem to lift, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.
Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical laboratory and psychological tests which, combined with interviews/discussions with patients, help provide a picture of a patient’s physical and mental state. Their education and years of clinical training and experience equip them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses, to evaluate medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to work with a patient to develop a treatment plan.