Psychiatrist: What They Are, vs. Psychologist, and Much More

Written by Resurchify | Updated on: August 04, 2022

Psychiatrist: What They Are, vs. Psychologist, and Much More

Are you feeling that you should visit a mental health doctor but got confused over the options? Well, you are not alone. Several people are going through the same problem. They don’t have any idea about whether they should visit a psychiatrist or a psychologist. Psychology and psychiatry are completely different from each other. But most people don’t know about it. They believe that they can visit any of them and the result will be the same. Well, the answer is no. Both are two different branches of science, and they need different knowledge.

To be honest, a psychiatrist is far higher than a psychologist. Can’t believe your eyes? Well, it is true. What if I say I have the proof? Here we have tried to prove the same. In this article, we have compiled everything you may need to know about a psychiatrist. Also, you will be able to differentiate it from a psychologist. Keep on reading to know what is yet to be revealed to you. 

What Is A Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the problem. It is a specific branch of science that deals with some specific problems. It offers a wider range of perspectives that looks at emotional, psychological, biological, social, and environmental factors. A psychiatrist is a highly educated person with a degree in either MD (doctor in medicine) or in DO (doctor in osteopathic medicine). 

A psychiatrist is knowledgeable in different fields. It diagnoses the problem from a social and environmental perspective. However, it solves them only from a biological angle. The thing is it is based on the fact that every social and emotional behavior is linked to our genetics. A person needs to work in various fields to get a degree in psychiatry. Some of them are neurology, genetics, social science, and even psychology. It takes years to get a degree of a psychiatrist. 

Psychiatry is a specific branch of science, and no other branch collides with it. You can say that it is a group of different branches. Psychiatry involves different science branches.

What Do Psychiatrists Do?

Well, the work of a psychiatrist is divided into several parts. It first diagnoses the problem. Then provides medicines. The study of psychiatry allows it to write medicines, something that is absent in psychology. A psychiatrist will ask for your medical history. It will check out thoroughly what type of problem you have. Then, it will prescribe medicines, therapy, or treatment based on your condition. 

Psychiatry, like science, also has branches. A doctor can take specialization in different sectors of it. 

  • Addiction medication
  • Child and teenager psychiatrist
  • Forensic psychiatrist, and many more.

A psychiatrist often prescribes tests and therapies for treatment. You can find it in various places like 

  • Hospitals
  • Personal clinics
  • Prison
  • Medical college
  • Nursery home
  • Rehabilitation centres

Well, your treatment depends on different factors. The psychiatrist will start by checking your medical background. Then, it may either take the case by itself or refer you for oral therapy. Oral therapy claims to diagnose the problem more accurately. Then, the oral therapist will either give you suggestions. If the problem is serious, recommend you return to the psychiatrist.  

It can provide medications for different problems. Like,

  • Medications
  • General medicine therapy
  • Psychological treatment
  • Therapies like ECT
  • Consultation

It is known that a psychiatrist might help you to cure various severe problems. In fact, it is known mainly to treat severe diseases. It is a wide topic and needs special research to know about it. 

How Does One Become A Psychiatrist?

Becoming a psychiatrist is not a tough nut to crack. It needs persistent time and dedication. It takes around 11 years to become a full-phased psychiatrist. 

  • To become a psychiatrist, first, they need to take 3 to 4 years of a medical degree. 
  • Then, the trainees would be sent to a hospital or medical center for general practice. It takes around 1 to 2 years to complete the general practice. 
  • Next, they take training in the diagnosis and medical treatment. It takes around five years. The trainees have to visit hospitals, medical centers, etc., at this time. 
  • And they need to gain experience in diagnosing the problem, and recommend relevant therapy and medication. 
  • Next, before starting the practice, you need to take an exam to get the license of the practice in the needed state. The validity of that license may differ from state to state. And, the psychiatrist again has to give the exam to get the license. 

It is not an easy task to become a psychiatrist. You need to give persistence, dedication, and time to get the license of practice. It is quite longer than the psychologist, which takes about six years to get the certificate. The thing is, a psychiatrist is meant for severe health problems. 

Psychiatry is an excellent option as a career. It takes quite a long time, but in the end, it is worth it. After 11 years, a beautiful career will wait for you. However, you will be in practice right after completing your medical degree.

What Treatments Can A Psychiatrist Provide?

A psychiatrist can provide you with treatment for various health problems. It can provide prescriptions to cure problems like

  • anxiety disorders
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • bipolar disorder
  • major depression
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Visiting a psychiatrist might be a lengthy process. Because it focuses on curing the cause, not reason. Psychiatry is based on genetics. It believes that the sole cause of all the problems lies in genetics. The psychiatrist will first ask for your medical history and the history of your family. Then, it will ask you several questions related to your personal, professional, and social life. 

Though it diagnoses the problem from a different perspective. It focuses more on social and environmental causes. The study of psychiatrists allows them to prescribe medicines. However, the psychiatrists first recommend talking to an oral therapist. It will ask you questions about various areas. Then, it will thoroughly diagnose the problem and tell the treatment accordingly.

Suppose you are suffering from severe mental problems. You will be told to go under several medical treatments. Generally, a psychiatrist can cure severe mental problems like ADHD, PTSD, etc. 

A psychiatrist may advise medicines like

  • anti-depressants
  • mood stabilizers
  • stimulants
  • sedatives, etc.

A psychiatrist covers up a large field. And, psychology is merely a branch of it. It understands the problem from a wide perspective. It relies more on biological factors for solutions. It talks to you in a broader sense. Like, it will ask you questions about your family background, what type of work you are doing, what are everyday habits, what type of disease you have suffered earlier, etc. 

Next, psychiatrists will suggest you solution that involves multiple things like medication, talk therapy, etc. Also, it may suggest some tests to diagnose the real problem. 

Difference Between A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist

Though we see that a psychiatrist and a psychologist do almost the same task, they are completely different from each other. They belong to two completely different fields. Hence, their work is also different. A psychologist is like a general physician who treats general problems like stress, unwellness, worthlessness, etc. However, a psychiatrist is meant for specific works like depression, mental illness, etc.

A psychiatrist can prescribe medicine, whereas a psychologist cannot. A psychologist doesn’t have any medical degree to prescribe medicines. Let us know more about it by looking at a brief differentiation between the two. 


The education of a psychiatrist and a psychologist is completely different from each other. To become a psychologist, a person needs to first complete a medical degree. It takes five to six years. Generally, a psychologist takes degrees in a doctor of philosophy or a doctor of psychology. Then, one needs to complete one to two years of training in a clinic.

To start its general practice, the psychiatrist must acquire a state license. A test is taken to ensure that you are eligible to do a personal clinic job. Then, they will provide a certificate or say license. The validation period of the license might be different for different states.

Though a psychologist can add ‘dr.’ with his name, he doesn’t have any medical degree. It can’t even prescribe medicine. To write medicines, a psychiatrist needs to complete a degree in psychopharmacology. It takes around 1 to 2 years to complete this degree. Then, an exam will be taken to give a license to prescribe medicines. This license will remain valid for only a specific period. After that, the psychiatrist needs to give the exam again to renew it.

A psychologist can take specialization in some specific fields like 

  • clinical
  • neurology
  • child and adolescent
  • forensic
  • psychoanalysis.

A psychiatrist spends 11 years getting a degree in psychiatry. It involves around five years of training and six years of knowledge. It includes medicines and therapy as well. So, you don’t need to take any additional course on medicines in it. A psychiatrist looks at overall mental health problems. In contrast, psychology is just a branch of psychiatry.

A psychologist needs to become a therapist. Also, psychology has a wider field to work on. It can open a clinic or join a big hospital or medical center. Apart from this, it can also go in education, child care, military, law or corporate setting, etc.

Treatment Based

A psychologist and a psychiatrist offer completely different treatments. Since their study is in different fields, so their way of working is also completely different from each other. 

Though both focus on the same problem, their approach is completely different from each other. Psychologists focus more on social and environmental factors rather than biological factors. Their work is wholly based on talk therapy. It generally involves watching the day-to-day problems of the people. It may include lack of concentration in studies, bitterness in relationships, anxiety, etc.

The work of a psychologist is diverse. The mental health problem is merely a part of it. It affects the mental condition of the people like lifestyle problems, misunderstanding, learning difficulties, lack of understanding, stress, and anxiety. A psychologist helps us to understand ourselves. It works to remove bitterness between relations. The most important thing we lack when we are away from someone is communication. It creates a gap. A psychologist helps to fill that gap and acts as an intermediator. A psychologist’s treatment is completely different from a psychiatrist’s. Instead of prescribing medicines, it treats with the help of therapies. Psychologists will call you again and again for a series of treatments and therapies to cure your problem. It focuses more on your behavior. 

For example, if you are suffering from stress. They will first ask you about your work life, personal life, and your relationship with other people. Then, it will ask what exactly your problem is. After that, it will advise you on how to remove stress and focus more on productive work. It may also advise you to go under certain treatment. 

The treatment offered by a psychologist is based on therapies. Rarely does it offer medications or any other solutions. You can say that a psychiatrist is a master of therapies. Some common therapies suggested by a psychologist are Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Psycho-dynamic Therapy, Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT), Gestalt Therapy, Humanistic Therapy, etc. 

The main focus of the psychologist is the behavioral factor. They talk to you and discuss your life and what are the problems that you face every day. They discuss what may be the possible causes of your problem and then suggest possible remedies for it. There might be some habits that can be the sole reason for your problem. But being unaware of it you were doing this task. A psychologist finds the solution inside you, not outside.

Bottom Line

Whether it is psychology or psychiatry, both solely rely on consultation. Both start the work by consulting the patient. And then, they move toward the solution in different directions. The base is the same for both, but the branches are different. And the solutions are also different. 

But the psychiatry has more branches as compared to psychology. Its branches have reached a higher position from where it can see the whole tree. Even, it can watch who is coming in its shadow and who wants a solution by standing outside the tree. The trunk of psychiatry is based on biological factors. While psychology is based on social and environmental factors. The fruit of psychiatry is medications, and the fruit of psychology is therapies.

What Do Psychologists Do, And How Are They Different From Psychiatrists?

Psychologists focus on mild problems. They will first talk to you, then discuss problems with you, and then after, work together to fight your symptoms in multiple sessions. It suggests multiple therapies that might give you relief from your symptoms. A psychologist may be a graduate in philosophy and social science. That’s why they focus more on the social and environmental behavior of a person rather than biological. Their most powerful weapon is talk. They often organize sessions that might be singular, duet, or in groups. 

However, a psychologist can cure only mild problems. And the most population is facing only mild problems. You can seek a psychologist even if you can’t concentrate on your studies. However, a psychiatrist is far away from these types of problems. A psychiatrist focuses on medications rather than talking. It is best for severe problems.

Also, a psychiatrist doesn’t rely on therapies. They might suggest you go to a therapist. It solely relies on medications. However, it covers a broader area than psychologists. Contrary, psychology is a subset of psychiatry.


Both psychology and psychiatry are excellent fields for mental health problems. However, they are entirely different from each other. A psychiatrist looks at different social and environmental factors. However, it provides solutions only through biological factors. Psychiatry believes that the main cause of all the problems is genetics. Thus, it focuses solely on it.  It provides solutions mostly through medications. However, it might suggest you visit a therapist as well.

A psychiatrist is known to cure severe mental health problems. It takes 11 years to become a psychiatrist, which includes medications as well. It is a broad topic in itself in which psychology also holds a small part. To conclude, a psychologist is a good option if you are facing mild problems. However, a psychiatrist is better if you have severe symptoms. Talk to your general doctor first. He/she might advise you better.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Visit A Psychiatrist Or A Psychologist? Whom Should You Visit? A Psychiatrist Or A Psychologist?

Well, the answer to this question depends on various factors. Both are important branches in the medical field. Your symptoms might help you in deciding whom you should visit. First, consider visiting a psychologist. It recommends a series of therapies and talking sessions. However, if you feel that your problem cannot be cured by therapies, you must consider visiting a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is meant for severe problems. It gives you medicines to cure your problem. If you feel that you are suffering from severe problems like depression, bipolar disorder, etc., talk to it now.

When you first visit a psychiatrist, you might get recommended to visit a therapist first. Or, if your problem is severe, then it might suggest you undergo both medication and therapy. They often suggest the name of the right therapist for you. A psychiatrist doesn’t give talk therapy. And talk therapy is important to treat depression. Thus, it should take both medicines and therapies. However, if you don’t want to take medicines for your problem, you might go to a therapist. Remember, the therapist may recommend going to a psychiatrist if he feels your problem can’t be cured with therapies. 

The best possible solution for severe depression is to go both for medicines and therapies. It will help you to get rid of the problem as soon as possible.

Financial Considerations

Finance is important to consider while choosing a psychiatrist and a psychologist. If you have health insurance, you need not care about anything. However, if you don’t have any, consider choosing medical colleges. Here, graduate students provide services under the supervision of senior officials. Here, you will get treatment at a low price. Psychologists might be cheaper than a psychiatrist. However, you might need medicines if your problem is severe. You may need to take both medicines and therapies also. Be prepared mentally and financially for what you are going to do.

Can A Psychiatrist And A Psychologist Work Together?

Absolutely. A psychiatrist and a psychologist do not completely skew each other. They often meet at a certain point. Let us try to understand this fact with the help of an example.

Suppose you are suffering from depression. You went to a psychiatrist. He/she asked you several questions related to your lifestyle, disease, food habits, mental condition, etc. Then, he/she wrote some medicines and tests and told you to visit a psychologist. While taking medication from a psychiatrist, you went under different therapies and patterns set by the latter. He/she will ensure that your depression never comes back again. 

Here we can see that both psychiatrists and psychologists are working together to cure your problem. Medicines cannot cure the problem completely. A depressed person remains unattached from the world. A psychologist must make him feel the beauty of the world again. Both medications and therapies are important branches of mental health. The reputed mental healthcare provider always advises going under both therapy and medicines. However, if you don’t want to treat your problem through both, you can talk to your general doctor about it and then take the needed steps.

A psychiatrist generally provides medicines only. You might need other facilities here like talk therapy. In this condition, you must visit a therapist. Psychiatrists will themselves suggest the right option for you. 




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