Psychiatry vs. Psychology: Understanding the Difference

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Have you ever considered the differences between psychiatry vs. psychology , or have you assumed them to be the same (or similar?). You’re not alone.

Psychologists and psychiatrists may work together for their patient’s well-being by offering their distinct professional skills. But, while most people assume that psychiatrists and psychologist are interchangeable terms, this is far from reality.

The primary differences between the two areas of specialties mainly concern educational background, practice, salary, and training. In this blog, we will highlight the difference between psychiatry vs. psychology.



Differences between Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Before we dive into the details, it’s crucial you familiarize yourself with the basics.

First off, psychiatrists are professionally trained medical doctors that are qualified to prescribe medication. Psychiatrists have to go to med school and typically deal with medication management. It’s also worth noting that the educational path for psychiatrists is more complex when compared to psychologists.

Once they have obtained a bachelor’s degree, the candidate must pass the Medical College Admission Test and enrol themselves in a Doctor of Medicine program.

On the other hand, psychologists extensively focus on treating mental and emotional suffering in patients. Additionally, psychologists are qualified to conduct psychological testing, an exam which is critical for testing one’s mental state.

This is later used to determine the most effective treatment for the patient. As far as their educational background is concerned, psychologists are not medical doctors and obtain a doctoral degree in psychology instead.


Similarities Between Psychologists and Psychiatrists

Since both professionals are trained in psychotherapy, their different educational background and training result in different approaches. This is why some patients rely on both psychologists and psychiatrists to solve their mental illnesses.


Psychiatry vs. Psychology for Depression

Psychologists are trained to closely examine patient’s behaviour. Suffering from depression and not being able to get out of bed is a behavioural activation that psychologists can identify.

This can be done by tracking sleep patterns or frequency of negative thoughts, along with other behaviour patterns. In short, these professionals aid people by offering them treatment to psychological problems. These problems may range from depression, learning difficulties to anxiety.

On the other hand, psychiatrists possess a stronger background in terms of biology and neurochemistry. This kind of extensive knowledge comes in handy while determining whether a patient really is suffering from depression or not.

At times, symptoms of thyroid problems or vitamin deficiencies can be mistaken for depression. This is where a psychiatrist can offer their medical expertise and conduct a thorough mental health diagnosis.


Psychiatry vs. Psychology for Anxiety

As a qualified medical professional, psychiatrists are licensed to write prescriptions for mental disorders such as ADHA, anxiety, bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and depression. With the proper treatment, these disorders can be treated with the right drugs. However, it’s worth noting that medication alone is not the only solution to treating anxiety. Sometimes, the patient may require a combination of counselling or psychotherapy. In this case, you may be referred to a different mental health professional.

A psychiatrist is better trained to treat anxiety as compared to a psychologist. They have a comprehensive educational background that allows them to differentiate between various mental health issues.

Also, a psychiatrist can examine the patient’s medical history and identify underlying medical problems which may have gone unnoticed before. Psychiatrists also monitor physical conditions which may have an impact on mental illness. This includes factors such as blood pressure, sleep, liver functioning, kidney or weight.


Psychiatry vs. Psychology: Who to Choose

Mental health problems (especially those that are chronic in nature) can negatively impact one’s peace of mind. Though it affects the mind, the body can physically respond to anxiety and depression like it does to physical illness. In fact, according to experts, some mental problems can also be caused as a result of physical conditions.

Start by visiting a doctor to report your symptoms. The doctor is likely to ask how long you’ve been experiencing these symptoms. After that, the doctor may check for physical problems which may an underlying cause of your mental illness.

Once a thorough examination has been conducted, the doctor will help you in decide what kind of mental health professional you should visit.

To add to the confusion, psychologists and psychiatrists aren’t the only mental health experts you can reach out to. Depending on your mental health problems, you can also speak to social workers, health counselors and nurses. Additionally, you can also choose from a myriad of treatment options.



Hopefully, this detailed blog has taught you everything you need to know about the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists. Good luck!

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