Do psychiatrists deal with anxiety?

Psychiatrists. Like psychologists, clinical psychiatrists study, diagnose, and treat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others. In addition to psychotherapy, psychiatrists may treat mental illness by prescribing medication.

Updated on March 12, 2023

Psychologist vs. psychiatrist: How to choose for depression and anxiety?

You think you may be depressed. For the past few weeks, you have been feeling sluggish. You don't eat much - and you sleep even less. You may not have the energy to do the things you usually enjoy doing. You can't answer phone calls from worried friends and relatives. These may be symptoms of depression.

You may also experience signs of nervousness, feelings of danger or panic, and you may find it difficult to think about anything other than your current worries. These may be symptoms of anxiety, and they may be holding you back and preventing you from communicating.

Whether you think you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, it may be time to consult a medical professional.

You may ask, "What specialist should I see if I think I might have depression and/or anxiety? A psychologist or a psychiatrist? What's the difference?"

Psychologist vs. psychiatrist

When determining which provider can meet your mental health needs, it is important to understand what services and treatments each professional offers. Psychiatrists and psychologists are not the only health care providers who can help with anxiety disorders and depression: Primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and other specialists can also help.


According to the American PsychologicalAssociation, the clinical psychologist provides mental health care, specializing in the study of behavior and mental processes. Psychologists work with cognitive processes, emotional behavior, and help patients integrate skills to improve interactions in their personal social environment.

Psychologists can diagnose mental disorders, behavioral problems, and learning disabilities. They identify and provide treatment through psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) to help people with depression or anxiety. Duringtherapy sessions, psychologists try to get to the root causes of mental disorders.

Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists do not receive a medical degree to treat depression or anxiety disorders. They usually get a bachelor's degree and a Ph.D. in psychology [Ph.D.] or a doctorate in psychology [Psy.D.]. They cannot prescribe medication to people who seek treatment.

Many practicing psychologists complete a two-year internship before earning a Ph.D. or Psy.D., depending on the state in which they practice.


Like psychologists, clinical psychiatrists study, diagnose, and treat mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and others. In addition to psychotherapy, psychiatrists may treat mental illness by prescribing medication. According to the American PsychiatricAssociation,"Psychiatrists have the authority to evaluate both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems .

People seek help from a psychiatrist for a variety of reasons. Some may experience underlying behaviors, including panic attacks, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts. The feelings may be long-lasting and never seem to go away. Some people may feel that daily life is distorted and tasks are not manageable.

Psychiatrists provide a variety of treatments, including talk therapy and psychosocial interventions. Treatment depends on the needs of the individual patient. Psychiatrists may perform a number of medical laboratory tests to get an idea of the patient's mental state.

Psychiatrists have the right to prescribe medications, just like other doctors treat high blood pressure or diabetes. The types of medications psychiatrists can prescribe include:

  • Antidepressants. Antidepressants can be prescribed for those diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.
  • Sedatives and anxiolytics. Sedatives and anxiolytics can be prescribed to treat insomnia and anxiety.
  • Antipsychotics. Antipsychotics can be used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or psychotic symptoms.
  • Mood stabilizers. Mood stabilizers can be prescribed to patients with bipolar disorder.
  • Stimulants and nonstimulants. Stimulants and non-stimulants are only used totreat ADHD.

Since psychiatrists can prescribe medication, they can order the GeneSight test, while the psychologist must work with the prescribing physician, such as a psychiatrist, primary care physician, or nurse practitioner.

How do I choose a psychologist or psychiatrist?

Psychiatrist's Choice

Choosing a provider is an individual and personal choice. Some people may prefer to see both a psychiatrist and a psychologist; others may choose one or the other. You may want to talk to your doctor about a referral to determine which mental health professional you should see, based on your medical history and mental illness. If the patient chooses a psychiatrist, he or she can review your medical records to understand the full picture.

The psychiatrist can help determine if medication can help manage depressive symptoms that are significantly affecting your body and/or ability to perform daily activities. If you are already taking prescription medications for other conditions, the psychiatrist may also consider drug interactions.

What to look for in a psychiatrist

Those who have never seen a psychiatrist may not know how to find one who meets their specific needs. There are several factors to keep in mind when searching for a psychiatrist:

  • Your condition or problem. Psychiatrists treat many conditions, but some specialize in areas that may fit your needs. You may want to find a psychiatrist who can treat your condition to fit your specific conditions and problems.
  • Which medications you may or may not need. You may need a psychiatrist to administer the medication and talk therapy at the same time.
  • Credentials. When choosing the best psychiatrist for you, you may want to look at their credentials. Are they properly educated, trained, licensed, and experienced? What areas of mental health do they specialize in? Be sure to also research their treatment approaches and philosophy.
  • Telehealth Offerings. If you prefer telehealth appointments or find it difficult to schedule an in-person visit, you can look for a psychiatrist who offers telehealth appointments.

Choice of Psychologist

"Psychologists who specialize in psychotherapy and other forms of psychological treatment are highly trained professionals with expertise in human behavior, mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change ," states the American Psychological Association.

There are many ways to find a psychologist. You can talk to your primary care physician, call your local psychology association, or contact the psychology department at your local college to find quality professionals. Other places to find psychologists near whom you feel comfortable include community mental health centers, local churches or synagogues.

TheAmerican Psychological Association points out that convenience is an important component in finding a psychologist for you .

"Most psychologists agree that an important factor in determining whether to work with a particular psychologist, once credentials and competence have been established, is your level of personal comfort with that psychologist," the article states. "A good rapport with your psychologist is crucial."

It is important to note that it may take several meetings or sessions with several psychologists before the best one that meets your needs is found.

In an article in Forbes, Marian Margulis, PhD, a New York psychologist and PhD candidate in psychoanalysis at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education at New York University Medical Center, says: "If you're not getting to the cause of the pain, you're essentially chained to the past. Psychotherapy gets to the root.

Margulis also noted that "you have to start talking about feelings as early as possible.

Seeking therapy from a psychiatrist or psychologist can give you the help you need to deal with the symptoms and difficulties of depression and anxiety.

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