Doctors & therapists

Psychiatrists – Diagnosis, Treatment & Doctor Choice


Psychiatrists treat mental illnesses such as psychosis and depression. She differs from the psychologist in the authorization to prescribe medication. In addition, psychotherapy is a form of treatment by a psychiatrist.

What is a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists are specialists in mental (“mental”) illnesses. The specialists in clinical psychology are active in the inpatient area, while medical psychology is predominantly at home in outpatient treatment.

In an aging society, geriatric psychiatry, which addresses the special mental illnesses of the elderly, is becoming increasingly important. A psychiatrist who works in the field of child and adolescent psychiatry is also highly specialized. Psychopathologists research and recognize defined clinical pictures, while pharmacopsychiatry focuses on the mode of action of the medication.

One approach to basic neurological research is biological psychiatry. Forensic psychiatry has a special social responsibility.

The training of a psychiatrist begins with the study of medicine. After obtaining his license to practice medicine, he completed four years of clinical specialist training and subsequently became a psychiatrist.


Psychiatrists are confronted with a multitude of clinical pictures. Patients with schizophrenia are very often clinically relevant . Acute relapses of this underlying disease are accompanied by severe psychoses . Clear symptoms are delusions and hallucinations . Patients often hear voices that give them orders and cause them to perform absurd actions. In these serious cases, the psychiatrist must prescribe psychotropic drugs.

Depression is another common mental illness that can take many forms. The methods of psychotherapy and psychoanalysis offer the prospect of successful treatment. In addition, the psychiatrist will usually also prescribe antidepressants .

Psychiatrists consider schizophrenia and depression to be predominantly genetic. Personality disorders are more likely to be attributed to social factors . Borderline syndrome , which is associated with extreme emotional lability, is a well- known serious illness . A disturbed self-perception and self-injury are typical hallmarks of the condition. Personality disorders are mainly treated with psychotherapeutic techniques. Medicamentous support is only necessary if there are consequences or side effects of the disease (“comorbidity”).

Psychiatrists often find it difficult to distinguish between compulsive disorders and other syndromes. This is precisely because compulsions often occur together with anxiety disorders (“ phobias ”). Psychotherapeutic approaches have made good progress in the field of compulsions and fears in recent years.

The treatment of addiction disorders is also a task for psychiatrists. Drug-assisted detoxification always precedes psychotherapy. Eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia are usually classified as addictions. Therefore, these behavioral disorders are also treated by the psychiatrist.

Diagnostic & examination methods

Psychiatrists use the patient interview to diagnose most mental disorders. In this “exploration” an experienced psychiatrist also registers the general behavior of his counterpart. Even body language can reveal a lot, because facial expressions and gestures also provide an insight into inner life. In this way, even small lies can be exposed, for example when it comes to the amount of addictive substance consumption.

The first clues from the patient interview result in suspicions that should be substantiated with standardized questionnaires. These methodological surveys are designed like multiple-choice tests and are statistically evaluated according to scores. Psychiatrists often find it helpful to talk to relatives, because how they perceive themselves and how they are perceived by others can differ significantly. In the case of psychiatric illnesses, this applies to a greater extent.

The psychiatrist also has to observe some patients in the hospital for a longer period of time in order to make the often difficult diagnosis. Here the nursing team provides the doctor with indispensable help. In the case of many mental disorders, the psychiatrist must rule out underlying physical illnesses. Therefore, blood analyzes and X-ray procedures as well as an ECG and especially the EEG are indispensable for the work of psychiatrists.

What should the patient pay attention to?

Psychiatrist and patient work together as partners in treatment. Therefore, a trusting relationship is required. If a patient seeks outpatient treatment, it is best to ask his family doctor which psychiatrist is suitable. There is a wide range of specializations within psychiatry.

In the first conversation with the psychiatrist, the patient usually quickly senses whether the personal relationship is “right”. However, one should be aware of whether the psychiatrist makes hasty diagnoses or carelessly prescribes medication. Because some psychotropic drugs also harbor the risk of dependency. In particular, immediately prescribing strong sedatives ( benzodiazepines ) is usually not a responsible approach for a psychiatrist.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.