What Do Psychiatrists Help To Treat?

If you've ever struggled with your mental health, you're not alone. And if you've ever struggled to figure out what kind of professional to see for mental health issues, you're really not alone. From therapists to psychiatrists to counselors to psychologists, it can feel overwhelming to know the differences and get yourself the best help possible.

Almost one in five adults in the U.S. struggles with mental illness, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. This can include any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use disorders, bipolar disorder, and more. However, of the nearly 53 million people with mental illness, only 46.2% received mental health services in 2020; more women received mental help services than men and adolescents. If you've been considering getting help and aren't sure where to start, depending on your symptoms and the severity of your concerns, a psychiatrist might be an ideal first stop.

When a psychiatrist might be your best option

A psychiatrist is different from other mental health professionals because they're actual doctors with medical degrees who specialize in mental health (via U.S. News & World Report). They not only offer talk therapy and psychological testing but can prescribe medication as well. For those who suffer from more serious mental illness, have attempted suicide or have suicidal ideation, or are experiencing psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices, a psychiatrist should be consulted first.

Since psychiatrists have a medical background, they're trained to differentiate between mental health issues and other underlying health issues that could come with psychiatric symptoms (via U.S. News & World Report). They can write prescriptions for medications that might be needed to help treat mental illness, such as antidepressants. Sometimes, however, medication alone isn't enough, and more extensive therapy is needed.

When mental health issues are less severe or you're looking for more long-term support, a psychologist, licensed mental health counselor, or clinical social worker may be helpful (via WebMD). These professionals tend to focus more on psychotherapy, which focuses on a broad range of issues and can help with things like managing stress, understanding behavior patterns, navigating relationships, and regulating emotions.