Psychologist vs Psychiatrist: 4 Key Differences You Should Know

Mental health is finally getting its due recognition after years of being considered a taboo topic, something to be swept under the carpet. Worldwide movements promoting mental health have inspired millions and encouraged them to seek help when needed. The biggest change that has been witnessed in this space is that people have started to talk about their mental health issues. Additionally, with online psychiatrist consultation now becoming easily accessible, mental health issues are being duly addressed all over the world.

A lot of emphasis is now being put on mental health and wellbeing and as a result the terms psychiatrists and psychologists are often heard. However, most of us confuse psychiatrists with psychologists and vice versa. It remains a common mistake for almost everyone, not familiar with the field of mental health. Since, prioritizing mental health is now of utmost importance, all of us must have a clear idea about the two distinct domains of mental health care, i.e. psychiatry and psychology.

What is Psychology?

Psychology is a field of medical science that deals with the study of the mind, emotions, and behaviour. Initially a branch of philosophy, psychology became an independent discipline in the 19th century. Psychology inspects the cognitive and social factors that affect our actions and reactions. The branch of study makes use of a host of therapeutic techniques to heal patients from trauma thereby enhancing their mental health.

What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry, which means “medical treatment of the soul,” is another branch of medicine. It deals with diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues. Psychiatrists also use therapy to help patients heal from mental maladies. That said, psychiatrists are also knowledgeable about how biological factors affect our mental health and how to treat mental health conditions by prescribing medicines.

Both psychiatry and psychology are different areas that interrelate and overlap one another. Both psychiatrists and psychologists treat patients struggling with mental health. Also, both of these professionals see their patients in one-on-one mode, be it in their clinic or during online psychiatrist consultation. But there are many differences between these two professions in their education, training, and area of practice.

4 Key differences between psychology and psychiatry

1. Education qualification

The first difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is in their educational qualification. Psychologists have undergrad or post grad degrees in healthcare fields like counselling and also usually have a doctorate. Their primary area of work is cognition and human behaviour.

Psychiatrists on the other hand, study biology and medicine. Moreover, psychiatrists can prescribe medication, while psychologists can’t. Psychiatrists are equipped with the ins and outs of medications, how the medications work, and also what medicine to recommend for different mental health maladies. Aspiring psychiatrists take up subjects like pharmacology, anatomy, biology, neurology, and disease, in order to gain knowledge about prescribing medicines. These graduates also need to do a residency lasting for nearly five years, before they get licensure.

Clinical psychologists can also be called doctors as they complete their graduation and get a doctoral degree. However, it is important to understand that unlike psychiatrists, psychologists are not medical doctors.

2. How they treat

Psychologists go deeper into the external causes affecting the health of our mind and also how therapeutic approaches can cure the conditions. Contrarily, psychiatrists explore the biological and neurological factors of mental health, which require an aptitude for math and science.

It is now a common practice for psychologists to work together with psychiatrists. Besides, psychologists also refer patients to psychiatrists when counselling alone doesn’t seem to work. It is now very easy to get a psychiatrist online appointment. All you need to do is search for best psychiatrist online consultation on the net and select a doctor that suits you best. At DocGenie we have a band of highly experienced psychiatrists who provide top quality counselling for all mental health conditions.

Also read: Looking after your Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic

3. Providing therapy

Both psychiatrists and psychologists can provide therapy. However, psychologists are only allowed to provide therapy, while psychiatrists can provide therapy as well as prescribe medicine. Often, psychiatrists only prescribe medication, which is why many mental health patients prefer to consult both psychologists and psychiatrists.

4. Who should you see when

It often gets tricky to settle on which type of mental health practitioner to consult. The primary consideration in this case should be to remember that psychiatrists prescribe medication while psychologists don’t. But as a patient you are not in a position to know if you need medication or not. That’s why it is important to first consult your family doctor or a general physician. Such a doctor will be in a position to refer you to the right kind of care provider.

Generally, consulting a clinical psychologist is a good idea to initiate treatment. Talk therapy often helps greatly in processing trauma. It also provides ways to deal with stress, depression,

and anxiety without medicine. That said, therapists often decide if therapy alone cannot improve your condition and refer you to a psychiatrist. However, if you or any of your near ones is struggling with serious mental health conditions, like schizophrenia, it is better to see a psychiatrist. Book a psychiatrist online appointment on DocGenie and access best mental health counselling from the comfort of your home.

Also read: Psychotherapy Or Talk Therapy Has Enormous Benefits

DocGenie is an online telemedicine platform that provides you with quality healthcare from the comfort of your own space. On DocGenie, you can book an online consultation with highly qualified doctors as well as book lab tests for home collection.