Psychiatrists are specialist medical doctors who are experts in mental health. Psychologists, on the other hand, are mental health professionals whose main focus is on therapeutic approaches. The main difference between the two is that a psychologist can’t prescribe medicines whereas a psychiatrist can.
They provide a wide range of services like urgent care for a sudden mental illness, manage a long-term mental health condition, provide second opinions and advice to other doctors and health professionals, provide advice about lifestyle changes and even admit the patient to the hospital if required. They are also qualified to conduct brain stimulation therapies, such as rTMS and electroconvulsive therapy.
Psychiatry consists of various sub-fields like child and adolescent psychiatry, perinatal psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and others.
A psychiatric treatment becomes necessary when the problem is complex or difficult to diagnose, involves suicidal ideas or plans, is severe or happens suddenly, needs medication that only a psychiatrist can prescribe and/or when the patient isn’t responding to standard treatments and therapies.
Psychiatrists can work in public and private hospitals, community mental health services and in private consulting rooms. They are also involved in research, providing advice in legal matters, and teaching and advocacy work. This means they also work in government departments, research centres and universities.