Is it time to see a psychiatrist instead of just your regular old therapist? How do you know? And quite frankly, what is the difference?
A psychiatrist is someone you talk to, who also has the capability of prescribing medication, while a psychologist does not prescribe drugs.
So how are you supposed to know which option is right for you? First of all, knowing that you need and also seeking help for your mental health is a positive first step. HelloFlo commends you. Now that you’re moving toward improving your mental state, here are some tips to deciphering which form of psychological help is best for you personally.
Scenario #1: You want to talk to a professional but are unsure if you should seek out a psychiatrist or a regular therapist.
Your primary care physician can prescribe antidepressants or anxiety medication, but they cannot provide you with psychological analysis. In many cases, seeing a therapist first is a solid place to start, as psychologists are qualified to recognize and decide as to whether or not a person needs additional treatment. Therapists can also be great sources and provide personalized recommendations for psychiatrists. All the same, if you know you have experienced depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue long-term, you may want to just see your physician and a psychiatrist.
Scenario #2: You’ve been in therapy but fear it’s not helping and wonder if it’s time for medication.
Since you already have a great resource right in front of you, accessible to you—your therapist—asking her opinion is a great reference point. You can say something like, “I’ve been feeling exceptionally down lately and am worried therapy isn’t the only treatment I need. What are your thoughts on me also seeing someone who can prescribe medication?”
At the end of the day, you know yourself—your body, your mental state, your brain, and your moods—better than anyone else. By that logic, ask yourself: Who better to make a decision for your body and mind than you? Look internally: Would talking about your issues and doing the hard, emotional work with a therapist be enough treatment for you? Or do you feel hopeless, depressed, and/or suicidal no matter how much emotional work you do?
Only you have the power to help yourself and recognize the optimal form of treatment. Do some research on psychologists and psychiatrists, make some phone calls, and if you’re willing, set up preliminary appointments with either a therapist or psychiatrist to see if either option is right for you.
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