How you know if you need to see a Psychiatrist

Psychiatry has changed. Anyone who is considering seeing a psychiatrist needs to understand those changes before they begin their search.

Over a relatively brief period, the world of psychiatry has a made a quantum shift. Consequently, the psychiatrists who are practicing today have assumed a much different role as a health care professional than their predecessors. Instead of employing the techniques of long-term “talk therapy”, dictated by theorists, such as Freud and Skinner, psychiatrists have changed their focus and now treat brain/mood disorders, or what society commonly refers to as “mental illness”, with drug therapy. Research on the biochemistry of the brain and the genetic links to mood disorders, have led these M.D.’s to reevaluate the theories of the past. Some psychiatrists will provide therapy sessions as an adjunct to medication but, for the most part, your psychiatrist will not be your therapist.

What anyone experiencing emotional problems then needs to examine is where these feels originated. If you have experienced a recent trauma such as a death, a rape or other violent assault, divorce, or something as ordinary as a major move, what you are feeling could be a natural response to these life-changing events. If you were a happy, well-adjusted person before the incident, the chances are that after processing the emotions, you will be again. If you are experiencing feelings of sadness or anger due to a recent trauma, you might consider seeing a psychologist or therapist instead of a psychiatrist.

If what you are feeling appears to have no connection to a recent and traumatic life event, then you should consider see a psychiatrist. If you have felt this way before or if your symptoms have lingered for months, a psychiatrist can best determine if the root of the problem is biochemical. This specialist has been trained to diagnose and treat many brain disorders, such as OCD, major depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. If you suspect that your symptoms fit the criteria for a diagnosis of one of the major brain/mood disorders, that is the time to consult a psychiatrist.

There is a long list of symptoms that point to a psychiatric diagnosis. Take a good look at your behaviors and your feelings to help determine if these symptoms of any disorder describe you. If you are experiencing prolonged “sadness”, if your thoughts have become fuzzy, if you cycle from happy to sad and then back again on a regular schedule, if you find yourself losing control and slipping into a rage, or if you have a suicide plan, do not hesitate to make an appointment with the best psychiatrist you can find.

Above all else, remember that “this too shall pass”. Psychiatric researchers are making great strides in the treatment of brain/mood disorders. There is much greater understanding of the causes of these disorders and, therefore, much less stigma for the people who suffer from them.