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A Psychiatrist is a specialized type of Doctor. Also known as: Mental Health Professional, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Child Psychiatrist, Mental Disorder Physician, Mental Health Physician.

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Psychiatry is a medical specialty that involves the treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are physicians who evaluate, diagnose and treat patients who are affected by a temporary or chronic mental health problem.

Contrary to popular belief, psychiatrists don't treat only people who are called "crazy" or "insane." This is a misconception and a distortion of the truth because people who suffer from delusions or hallucinations form only a fraction of psychiatric patients. In fact, many people have borderline or temporary psychiatric conditions that may be effectively treated, resulting in full recovery of the patient.

What does a Psychiatrist do?

Although the location of the problem is the brain, unlike neurologists, psychiatrists do not treat organic or structural disorders such as epilepsy, consequences of strokes or brain cancers. However, these disorders may also cause psychiatric symptoms and mental alteration in certain patients, which requires the ability to make a differential diagnosis and apply correct treatment. Psychiatrists need to have an excellent understanding of basic psychology and must possess psychotherapy skills to attempt to influence the patient's disorder with less medication. In fact, many psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and certain phobias may be effectively treated through psychotherapy. Medication in psychiatry is used only when counselling and therapy fail to produce noticeable results.

Psychiatrists are doctors who are dedicated to providing the best treatment and care for mental disorders with compassion and patience. They must have excellent communication skills and a high degree of emotional intelligence to understand the patient's emotional and mental problems and formulate the best course of action for their treatment. Unlike other fields of medicine, the treatment regimen in psychiatry may change significantly depending on the patient's response to medication or psychotherapy. With proper psychological, emotional and social support, many patients who have severe mental symptoms are able to improve and reconnect with society, which allows mental health professionals to lower medication dosages. In certain cases, relapse of symptoms may occur, which requires a new treatment strategy and elaboration of alternative therapies for a particular patient.

Psychiatrists treat a great variety of mental disorders ranging from mild and temporary to severe and chronic. For example, depression, which is a mental disorder that involves intense feelings of sadness and lack of motivation, may be effectively treated through psychotherapy, and does not require medication in all cases.

Mild depression may be a transient condition, and may be the result of emotional trauma and tragic events in the patient's life. Psychiatrists must be able to identify early signs of depression and find its roots, and then apply psychotherapy techniques and potentially antidepressants to treat the patient. Anxiety disorders are another common category of mental disorders that are addressed by psychiatrists. They involve unexplained fear, panic or phobias that are manifested in certain situations and greatly affect the patient's career, social life and mood. Along with depression, anxiety disorders are considered mild psychiatric disorders because they are usually temporary and respond well to treatment, which frequently results in full recovery.

Patients who suffer from hallucinations and delusions may have more severe psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia. This mental disorder requires careful evaluation of each case, and is usually treated through medication. Although schizophrenia is considered a chronic mental disorder, there are many cases of effective recovery and elimination of medication in certain patients. Moreover, some patients who suffer from delusions may gradually reintegrate into society through psychotherapy, work and friendships, and are able to function as normal individuals on low doses of medication or no medication at all. The final results greatly depend on the ability of the psychiatrist to recognize the potential for a patient to recover and cope with his or her mental disorder.

What is the workplace of a Psychiatrist like?

Psychiatrists usually work in hospitals, psychiatric clinics or other mental health institutions. They may also work at private medical offices. Primary care units and emergency departments usually don't have psychiatrists because mental disorder symptoms are not considered emergencies, although, if severe enough, they may require sedation until the patient is transported to a psychiatric clinic. Psychiatrists may also work part-time in prisons or other correctional facilities.

What are good qualities for a psychiatrist to have?

It's good for a psychiatrist to think of a patient in a holistic way, and to ask the patient about diet, exercise, sleep, relationships, support systems, and different stressors in their life in order to make an informed assessment and a proper evaluation.

It is also important for the psychiatrist to possess some degree of humility when speaking to the patient, even admitting to not knowing something if that is the case, and telling the patient that he will look into the matter. This shows a partnership and a collaboration with the patient, which will produce more success in the end.

It also goes without saying that a psychiatrist needs to be able to really listen to his/her client, and convey authentic concern, always being respectful of the patient's feelings.

What is it like being a psychiatrist?

A student will typically get into the field of psychiatry because it is almost like a calling to them. Psychiatry can be quite stressful sometimes, especially if one chooses to work with more acutely ill patients. But for the most part, the culture of this career tends to be more laid back than others. People who have psychiatric illnesses often need quite a bit of time in order to make positive changes and will tend to have a longterm relationship with their psychiatrist. Therefore, a psychiatrist needs to be patient and have a relaxed attitude, knowing that he or she will be having a long, intense relationship with the patient.

There are many choices of career paths within the psychiatric field, so one can choose a calm, predictable outpatient practice, or a busy acute inpatient unit or ER. One can construct a schedule as busy or as calm as one may like.

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

Both psychiatrists and psychologists conduct psychotherapy and research, but there are significant differences between the two professions.

The first difference is in education: a psychiatrist has a degree in medicine, and is a medical doctor, whereas the psychologist has a degree (a masters or a doctorate) in psychology. The second difference is that a psychiatrist can prescribe medication, whereas a psychologist cannot.

If you are trying to choose between the two careers, you will need to determine if you would prefer to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent mental illness and be able to prescribe medications to your patients (psychiatrist), or if you would prefer to conduct psychotherapy, administer psychological tests, and conduct research (a psychologist).

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What Does a Child Psychiatrist Do?

Unsure what to expect when seeking therapy for a child or teenager with mental illness?

Many children experience mental illness, mental disorders, depression or anxiety that impair their ability to function properly and to cope with the various stages of child development.

Child psychiatrists receive specialized training that enables them to exclusively provide treatment for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years old.

A child psychiatrist can help your child overcome his mental illness or emotional problems by delivering talk therapy and by prescribing medications to reduce or eliminate symptoms.

If you are interested in finding a psychiatrist for your child, it can help to understand the professional services and treatment plans that child and adolescent psychiatrists provide.

What kind of training do child psychiatrists have?

Psychiatrists must receive a medical degree and must complete a three-year residency training program.

However, child and adolescent psychiatrists must also receive extensive training that equips them with the knowledge and skills required to understand the mental disorders that children often suffer from and the effective methods to diagnose and treat those conditions.

After fulfilling the standard psychiatric educational requirements, each child psychiatrist must then complete an additional two years of specialized training with an accredited residency program that prepares them to provide treatment for children. The training program enables the psychiatrists to acquire a comprehensive understanding of psychopathology, medicine, neurology, and child and adolescent cognitive disorders.

What types of patients do child psychiatrists see?

Child psychiatrists provide treatment for patients who are experiencing a diverse range of disorders and problems.

Mental disorders that many children experience and that are often treated by child psychiatrists include anxiety disorders, attention disorders, mood disorders, learning disorders, psychotic disorders and autism.

Children who are suffering from emotional problems, drug addictions, or eating disorders can also receive treatment from child psychiatrists. Additionally, the psychiatrists typically treat children or teenagers who are demonstrating behavioral problems and who are frequently getting into trouble at home, at school or with the juvenile criminal justice system.

How do child psychiatrists evaluate their patients?

When your child begins treatment with a child and adolescent psychiatrist, the initial visit often consists of the psychiatrist conducting an evaluation of your child to successfully diagnose the specific medical conditions that might be inhibiting his cognitive abilities.

During this evaluation, the psychiatrist often talks to your child, asks several questions regarding various issues of his life and conducts a wide range of behavioral tests. The doctor also usually performs a thorough medical examination by taking blood or urine samples and by analyzing the chemical balances of those samples.

This evaluation process is a primary difference that distinguishes psychiatrists from counselors. Although counselors are trained to provide guidance for your child, only psychiatrists are trained to conduct medical evaluations and to make diagnoses regarding mental disorders or medical conditions that your child might be experiencing.

What kind of mental health care will my child get?

After the child psychiatrist has analyzed the information from the evaluation and has determined a diagnosis, the doctor usually develops and implements a treatment plan that would most effectively help treat your child's particular medical condition.

The treatment plan often includes talk therapy sessions that are held about once a week.

During the talk therapy sessions, the psychiatrist can communicate with your child, provide advice, conduct further tests to monitor his progress, and teach him the beneficial techniques and effective methods that he should use to improve his mental or emotional functioning. However, another distinction between counselors and psychiatrists is that only psychiatrists possess the advanced medical training required to prescribe medication to your child.

The psychiatrist can diagnose the specific medical condition that your child is experiencing and prescribe medications that can alleviate the symptoms that often accompany the condition.

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