What is a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatry is the medical specialty that deals with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral problems.
A psychiatrist is a medical professional (an M.D. or D.O.) who focuses on mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are trained to evaluate psychiatric issues in both their mental and physical aspects.
Many reasons lead people to seek out psychiatric assistance. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, terrifying hallucinations, suicidal thoughts, or hearing "voices," or they can be long-term, such as persistent melancholy, hopelessness, or anxiety, or functional problems that make daily life feel distorted or out of control.
A patient's physical and mental health can be assessed using a variety of medical laboratory and psychological tests, which psychiatrists can order or administer as doctors. These tests, along with patient consultations, help paint a picture of a patient's overall health. Their skills and education enable them to provide diagnoses, assess medical and psychological data, collaborate with patients to develop treatment programs, and comprehend the intricate connections between emotional and other medical problems as well as those involving genetics and family history.
- Child and adolescent psychiatry
- Young adult psychiatry
- Perinatal psychiatry, which focuses on issues that arise during pregnancy and the first antenatal year
- Geriatric psychiatry, focusing only on older adults
- Addiction psychiatry
- Forensic psychiatry, which addresses mental health within the legal system and works with people on trial and those with a criminal record
Centers & Institutes
Healthcare Delivery by Psychiatrists in the US
Psychiatrists are primary mental health physicians, and among their key duties is the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
To assess whether a person's symptoms are psychiatric, the outcome of a physical condition, or a combination of both, psychiatrists will employ a range of procedures. The psychiatrist must be well-versed in general medicine, psychology, neurology, biology, biochemistry, and pharmacology to perform this.
While psychiatrists typically work regular business hours, there may be emergencies that arise late at night or on the weekends. Similar to other mental healthcare professionals, maintaining strong boundaries and professional assistance are crucial for avoiding burnout and compassion fatigue.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there are approximately 27,900 psychiatrists working in the United States as of 2019. Between 2019 and 2029, the demand for psychiatrists is anticipated to increase at an above-average rate of 12%.
Daily tasks can change depending on the profession and industry of employment. A psychiatrist working in a hospital may treat a wide range of acute mental illnesses, but those working in private or group offices might have a more set practice area and timetable.
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The material presented above is only meant to be informative and is not intended to take the place of advice from your doctor or another health care practitioner. We advise you to talk to your provider about any questions or issues you may have.