Psychiatry is a medical field concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions. Whether you are dealing with a personal or family crisis, or a suffering with a mental or emotional problem, learning more about psychiatry can help.
This section provides an outline about psychiatry, including what psychiatrists do and where they work. It is common for people to seek psychiatric help for various mental health disorders, ranging from mild anxiety to schizophrenia. Learn about the variety of treatments used is psychiatry, including psychotherapy, medication, and other treatments.
If you’d like further information, this section also includes a professional support and self help resources page to help you through the journey.
Psychiatry is a medical field concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health conditions. A doctor who works in psychiatry is called a psychiatrist.
Unlike other mental health professionals, such as psychologists and counsellors, psychiatrists must be medically qualified doctors who have chosen to specialise in psychiatry. People seek psychiatric help for a number of mental health problems. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack or frightening hallucinations, or they can be anxious feelings that never seem to lift, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control. Usually though, psychiatrists work with people who have more severe disorders, such a schizophrenia, that may require some sort of medical treatment. This often, but not always, involves the prescription of medication.
Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical laboratory and psychological tests which, combined with interviews with patients, help provide a picture of a patient's physical and mental state. A psychiatrist can take into account psychological and social factors and will tailor any treatment plan according to the needs of the individual.
Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments, including psychotherapy, medication, and other treatments. For more information, see Treatments Used in Psychiatry.
Psychiatrists work in a variety of settings, including private practices, clinics, general and psychiatric hospitals, community agencies, nursing homes, military settings, schools and universities, rehabilitation programs, emergency rooms, prisons, and many other places.
Psychiatrists and psychologists both treat people with mental problems that vary widely by degree and type, from mild anxiety to depression. Both kinds of professionals can also conduct psychotherapy and research.
However, the most significant differences between the two professions are academic training and approach according to the Royal College of Psychiatrists . The suffix "-iatry" means "medical treatment," and "-logy" means "science" or "theory”. So psychiatry is the medical treatment of the psyche, and psychology is the science of the psyche.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health problems. This means people in a wide variety of circumstances and with varying conditions may seek psychiatric help. The need for professional assistance may become obvious in the midst of a family or personal crisis. At other times, continued difficulty functioning at home, work or school may require careful assessment and treatment.
Mental disorders that may be diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist include:
To see a psychiatrist, you generally need to be referred by your doctor, who will direct you to a psychiatrist that specialises in the area of psychiatry that is related to your condition. If you wish to see a psychiatrist privately, you may be able to contact a psychiatric clinic directly to schedule an appointment.
Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments to treat a broad range of mental disorders and emotional difficulties. These include:
The majority of psychiatric treatments are carried out for a person as an outpatient, however, occasionally an admission to a specialist hospital is required.
If you need more self-help resources, check out the following associations and societies: