Psychology is the study of behavior and mental processes. Psychologists analyze and research topics such as perception, cognition, emotion, personality, behavior, and social interactions and how they are influenced by biological, social, and environmental factors. Psychology explores a broad and diverse range of subjects.
Psychology can be used in several ways to improve people’s lives. For example, psychologists can help people cope with mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. Psychology can also help treat substance use disorders by teaching patients how to cope with triggers and alleviate cravings.
In addition, psychology provides a set of very useful tools that can improve people’s daily lives. For instance, psychologists can help develop and enhance emotional intelligence, cognitive flexibility, communication, and understanding. Furthermore, psychologists can help and teach individuals how to improve relationships, job satisfaction, memory, and performance on tasks.
Psychiatry is the branch of medicine that deals with mental health. Psychiatry will be detailed below.
Psychiatric issues cover a wide range of mental health conditions. These include mood disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety), psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia), and substance abuse disorders (e.g., alcohol use disorder, opioid use disorder). An estimated 52.9 million people aged eighteen and older in the United States have a mental illness.1
Treatment for psychiatric problems often includes medication, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Psychiatric issues can be very complex, as they can develop for a variety of reasons, including physical health problems like a head injury or a chronic medical condition. As a result, treatment often requires a team approach that includes other healthcare professionals such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers.
Psychiatrists and psychologists are mental health professionals who can provide therapy. Nonetheless, there are some key differences in their training, scope of practice, and methods of treatment.
Psychologists typically have a doctoral degree in psychology, which takes about five to seven years to complete. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, as they are not medical doctors; however, they can provide psychological therapies, conduct scientific studies, and collect data via surveys, interviews, tests, etc.
The methods of treatment that psychiatrists and psychologists use also differ. Psychiatrists primarily use medication to treat mental health conditions, while psychologists typically use talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy. However, both professions may use a combination of medication and talk therapy to treat their patients, with psychologists recommending medication to a medical doctor (e.g., psychiatrist, physician). In 2019, 15.8% of adults received medication for a mental health concern, and 9.5% received therapy from a mental health professional.2
It is important to note that treatment depends on the mental disorder. For example, psychiatric medications can be effective for some conditions, such as depression and anxiety, but may not always be helpful in every situation. Psychotherapy is also effective for various mental disorders, but different types of therapy are available that can address certain conditions better than others. Some people may benefit from a combination of medication and therapy.
Both psychiatrists and psychologists can treat a variety of mental disorders, such as anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorders, and eating disorders.
Both psychologists and psychiatrists can provide counseling and therapy for anxiety disorders. However, if you are seeking treatment that includes medication, you will need to see a psychiatrist. It is also important to note that not all therapists are licensed psychologists or psychiatrists. If you want to ensure you are seeing a qualified professional, be sure to ask about their credentials.
At Boardwalk Recovery Center, we offer a variety of treatment programs provided by experienced and highly qualified psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health professionals. Contact us today to learn more about our programs, connect with a psychologist or psychiatrist, and begin your treatment.