What’s The Difference Between A Psychologist And A Psychiatrist?

The terms “psychologist” and “psychiatrist” are often used interchangeably by those unfamiliar with the field of medical health. While both professionals treat those struggling with mental health issues on an individual basis, there are some significant differences between them. These differences lie in the aspects of professional scope, training, and education. So, what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist, and which would you benefit from seeing? We discuss that here.

Understanding Psychology

Psychology is the study of behavior, emotions, and the mind. Before it was established as an independent discipline in the mid-19th century, psychology was a branch of philosophy. Psychology students evaluate the various social and cognitive factors that shape the way people behave and react to situations. Psychologists utilize myriad therapeutic techniques to help their patients improve their mental health and heal from trauma.

Understanding Psychiatry

Psychiatry comes under the field of medicine and focuses on evaluating and treating mental health issues. The term is derived from psychiatria from Medieval Latin, which means “a healing of the soul.” What differentiates psychiatrists from psychologists is that they understand how biology might shape a person’s medical health. They are also able to prescribe medication.

How are they Different?

  • Training and Education: The educational process to become a psychologist can take 8 to 10 years. Psychologists must have a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a doctoral degree in their field and are required to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in many states. Psychiatrists need to have a bachelor’s degree before they attend medical school. They need to study various fields such as anatomy, neurology, biology, and more, which gives them the necessary knowledge to prescribe medication. Psychology graduates go on to complete a residency before they seek their license. The entire process can take up to 12 years.
  • Practice: Both psychologists and psychiatrists provide psychotherapy. The difference lies in the mode of therapy: psychiatrists primarily provide medication, while psychologists employ talk or behavioral therapy. In some states, psychologists are granted prescription privileges if they complete the necessary training and education.

Which Should You See?

If you think you might have a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it would be best for you to seek a psychiatrist. While traditional talk therapy can be beneficial for those conditions, medication is often necessary.

A good place to start if you are not sure whether you need a psychologist or psychiatrist is to see a licensed counselor. They will take you through talk therapy, where you can process your trauma and learn tools to help you cope with depression, stress, and anxiety without medication. After some time together, your counselor will be able to determine if you need additional help, at which point they might recommend that you start seeing a psychiatrist.

A psychiatrist would then provide you with a neuropsychological assessment and a comprehensive initial assessment to find out how they can best help you. If you are already seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist but think that you might benefit from a second opinion on your current treatment, that can also be offered.

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Tips To Find A Psychotherapist That’s Good For You

As with all partnerships in your life, finding a psychotherapist that’s the right fit for you can take some trial and error. Sometimes you may be lucky enough to find someone you click with right off the bat, but other times you may need to dig a little deeper to find a good match. Here are our tips to help you find a psychotherapist that’s good for you.

Evaluate Your Needs

The first thing to do is evaluate what you would need out of a mental health provider. Some people might find that talk therapy is sufficient, while others may feel that they need medication. Yet others are simply looking for a comprehensive initial assessment to help them determine their diagnosis. Some do not know exactly what they are looking for, but are feeling distressed and are looking for some relief.

If medication is required, you would do best with a psychiatrist or psychiatric nurse practitioner. If you are seeking psychotherapy, you can look for counseling, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, clinical psychologists, or certified drug and alcohol counselors.

Consider Your Finances

Therapy comes with a multitude of life-changing benefits, but it is also an investment. The most affordable option would be to find a psychotherapist who is on your insurance plan. However, certain therapists either are not included in your insurance plan or do not accept insurance. If the full fee is too costly for you, you can find lower-cost options at a community mental health center or clinics affiliated with local universities. The latter will provide therapists-in-training, who are often graduate students. Lower fees do not necessarily mean that you will receive a lower quality of service. If you are comfortable, your workplace or school may even offer free short-term counseling services.

Do Your Research

Sometimes, the best place to start is with a simple internet search for mental health providers in your area. If you live in a city, chances are that you will have your pick of choices. Unfortunately, a rural area might yield fewer results, although there should still be options that you can choose from. Getting personal recommendations from people in your life that you can trust can also be a helpful starting point. Your family doctor may be familiar with therapists in the area, and community leaders at places of worship can also provide help if necessary.

Meet the Therapist

Once you find your top candidates, call them up to schedule an appointment. On your first meeting, you will complete some paperwork and discuss your concerns, health status, and life history with your potential psychotherapist. This is a chance for both of you to see whether you will be able to work well together. You should have a list of questions ready for the therapist, which can revolve around:

  • Their experience, license, training, and education
  • If they have any experience with the issues you are currently facing
  • The type of therapy they provide, and evidence of its effectiveness
  • Their office hours, availability, any after-hours emergency services they provide, and their fees

Not all psychotherapists provide the same services. Still, taking the first step in reaching out for help is always a good start.

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Is Anxiety The Same Thing As Depression?

Anxiety, depression – are they both the same thing? Both are generally distressing emotional states to deal with, but there are key differences between them, and they are different conditions. Depression prompts feelings of reduced energy, sadness, and despair. Anxiety engenders feelings of worry, dread, and nervousness. It is possible to have both conditions at the same time and while it is normal to feel depressed and anxious every now and then, persistently experiencing these emotions could be a sign that you may need treatment. Here, we go through the symptoms of depression and anxiety and discuss how they may be treated.

Understanding Depression

When you are depressed, your symptoms could include:

  • Apathy
  • A loss of interest in things that you used to enjoy doing
  • Sadness, anxiety, hopelessness
  • Sleeping either too much or too little
  • Eating more or less than you once did
  • Trouble concentrating

Generally, for depression to be diagnosed, you would need to experience symptoms throughout the day, and nearly every day over two weeks. These symptoms, however, can be prompted by physical issues, such as thyroid problems. If that is the case, you would benefit from visiting a doctor who could treat the issue instead. This should relieve your symptoms.

Understanding Anxiety

Like depression, it is normal to experience anxious feelings now and then. If you notice that these feelings are persistent and interfering in your daily life, however, you should seek help. The symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling constantly on edge
  • Feeling sweaty or shaky
  • Feeling out of control
  • Overwhelming feelings of worry

The Relationship Between Anxiety and Depression

Both depression and anxiety are differentiated primarily by their symptoms. However, these conditions can often be concurrent, with about 60% of those who experience depression also reporting symptoms of anxiety, and vice versa. Symptoms of depression can also be aggravated by symptoms of anxiety, and the reverse also holds. Both anxiety and depression could be genetic or triggered by stress and trauma experienced early in life.

Treating Depression and Anxiety

It can be harder for both depression and anxiety to be diagnosed and treated if they are concurrent. This is why it is essential that you reveal all your symptoms to your doctor so that they can make an accurate and comprehensive initial evaluation. Depression and anxiety treatments involve medication or talk therapy, and sometimes a combination of both. The main form of talk therapy is cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches you how to restructure your thought patterns and behaviors so that you can stop triggering your depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, antidepressants are medical treatments for depression. They alter the chemical balance of your brain to improve your mood. Anxiety medication includes antidepressants, beta-blockers, and anti-anxiety drugs.

If you have noticed symptoms of anxiety and depression in your life, it is time to seek help. You no longer have to live in fear, sadness, or hopelessness. Instead, there are treatments available for you to be able to experience a better quality of life. Take the first step to regaining your mental health today by reaching out to a mental health provider.

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6 Signs You Need To Find A Psychologist In New York

Life is a complex thing. We cycle through a variety of circumstances – and emotions – through the years. Sometimes, everything seems to be going well, and other times it seems as though we are in a rut. We may experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, agitation, or emotional disturbance in general. While these feelings are normal from time to time, especially if precipitated by particular events, there may come a time when you need extra help to manage them. Here, we discuss 6 signs that you need to find a psychologist in New York to help you through tough times.

You are Undergoing a Transitional Stage

If you are experiencing feelings of stress (or are feeling low in general) while undergoing a transitional stage, you may want to consult a psychologist. Big life changes, such as a move to another city or job, can prompt negative emotions that may point to other, underlying issues. Perhaps you do not cope well with change or instability. A psychologist could help you get relief from these issues and help you understand why you feel the way that you do.

You have Low-self Esteem

We don’t always feel on top of the world. Most of us go through life with insecurities, but when feelings of low confidence, worthlessness, and sadness are persistent and debilitating, it may be time to seek help. If you feel that your low self-esteem has been causing you distress or is preventing you from living life to the fullest, you may need some help to overcome it.

Thoughts of Self-harm

If you feel worthless, or that life in general is not worth living, you might have accompanying thoughts of self-harm. This persistent sense of dread and apathy can be difficult to handle, and it can often seem as though you will never overcome it. This is not true, and seeing a psychologist or any mental health expert can give you the resources you need to overcome these feelings.

You are Having Relationship Issues

Relationships are delicate things that require care and attention. Some relationships are more fraught than others. If you are having issues in some of your important relationships, be they with your spouse or partner, parent or child, you may benefit from therapy. An individual therapist can help you through the effects that these relationship troubles may have on you, but couple and family therapy can provide a conducive, meditative environment for you and the other person to talk through your issues.

You are Withdrawing Socially

People are social creatures. Even the introverts among us have activities they enjoy, places they love to go to, and people that they enjoy spending time with. If you do not feel any impulse to do the things that you used to love and find yourself withdrawing socially, it could be a sign of deeper issues in your life.

Seeking Help

There is no shame in seeking help for your mental health if you need it. You can try a neuropsychological assessment to help you get started. We provide comprehensive initial assessments and can even offer second opinions if you are currently seeing a therapist but want a fresh perspective on your treatment.

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2 Best Treatments For Social Anxiety Disorder

There are various social anxiety disorder treatments available, but which would be the best for you? How much your social anxiety disorder affects your ability to function on a daily basis will determine the kind of treatment you need. Typically, social anxiety disorder treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, or a mixture of both.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy refers to talk therapy or psychological counseling. This improves the symptoms of most people who have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder. Therapy can help you recognize and modify any intrusive negative thoughts you may have and develop the skills to help you take part in life activities more confidently.

The most effective type of psychotherapy for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can be conducted with equal effectiveness in individual or group settings. During CBT sessions, you face situations that cause you to fear. This helps you improve your ability to cope with stressful situations. You may participate in role-playing where you practice your social skills, honing your levels of comfort and confidence in social situations. Repeated exposure to situations that cause you to stress will help you become comfortable in dealing with them on your own.

Medication

Several types of medication are available for social anxiety disorder. The go-to medication is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Health care providers will most likely prescribe Zoloft or Paxil. A serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) known as Effexor XR is also a helpful option.

You will often start with a low dosage to reduce the risks of side effects. Your health care provider will then gradually increase your prescription until you reach the full dose. It can take a few weeks to months of medication for you to notice a significant improvement in your symptoms.

Other medications that you may be provided include beta-blockers, which help reduce heart rate, pounding of the heart, blood pressure, and shaky voice and limbs. These are often prescribed right before a big event that triggers your anxiety so that you can navigate it more calmly. Also commonly prescribed are antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines. It is important to take these medications only when they are prescribed and to do so with care. These medications are not usually recommended for long-term use or general treatment of social anxiety disorder, as unrestrained use can lead to dependency.

Keep at It

In therapy, you are equipped with skills that will last you a long time, so don’t be discouraged if it takes you time to see noticeable results. Changes to the way your thought and behavioral patterns are structured take time to manifest, so be patient with yourself. Finding the right medication for your particular situation is also a process of trial and error.

For some people, the symptoms of social anxiety disorder will gradually fade with anxiety treatment, and medication can be discontinued. Others might need years of anxiety treatment to prevent relapses. Anxiety in children is also quite common, so if you think that your child might need help, it is best to seek it earlier rather than later.

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