Counselor or Psychiatrist – Who Should You Contact?

4.4 min read|877 words|Categories: Mental Health|

A number of years ago, a common taboo flying around put it all into our heads that receiving any kind of psychiatric help meant you were crazy—not exactly an enjoyable reputation to have or emotion to feel. Because of this unpleasant stereotype, many people avoided psychiatric offices like the plague and never received any form of mental health care. 

The good news is this untrue stereotype has become more or less a thing of the past and the benefits of speaking with a psychiatrist, online or in-person, are widely understood. In fact, they’re so widely understood that mental health is now a high priority in society, and many people speak openly and gratefully about their time spent in counseling. 

Even if this particular reputation isn’t something you fear, you still might find yourself wondering, “Do I need a psychiatrist?” “Is this worth speaking to a psychiatrist about?” 

Who is a psychiatrist? 

Psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist and counselor are all used somewhat interchangeably, but the truth is they’re all somewhat different. While all of them are professionally trained and educated mental health professionals, a key difference between psychiatrists and the rest of the mental health care professionals is the ability to administer medication in addition to counseling services. 

One psychiatrist described her role as, “a medical doctor who specializes in mental health…A person should see a psychiatrist when they may need consultation with regard to the medical piece of mental health—either because they need to clarify their diagnosis, or because they need to take medication or suspect that (medication) could be a need.”  

A counselor is a great option if you want to talk about changes in your life that you’re having difficulty managing, like a career change or a move. But a psychiatrist might be a better option for you if you’ve been diagnosed with co-occurring disorders or another mental health condition requiring medication to help manage. 

What kind of conditions do psychiatrists treat? 

Psychiatrists assess, diagnose and help treat mental health conditions across the board. Even the smallest episodes of anxiety, depression or stress may be indicators of a greater mental health condition—especially if they reoccur often—and psychiatrists can help guide you to a greater understanding and control of your mental and physical state. 

Some mental health conditions you’d seek a psychiatrist for include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Substance use disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia

Especially if you struggle with depression in addition to substance use disorder, or an eating disorder as a result of chronic anxiety, seeking out the guidance and support of a psychiatrist can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health.   

When to seek out a psychiatrist 

For some, they might already be aware of the presence of a mental health condition in their lives, but others might simply feel “off” or not themselves when they start considering professional help. Some might feel concerned and do not want to overreact to what might feel like routine stress, but there’s also the reality of being proactive. 

So when should you take the step and contact a psychiatrist? What constitutes needing professional mental health assistance? 

  • Suicidal thoughts – Anyone with thoughts of, attempts of or ideations of suicide should seek the guidance of a psychiatrist immediately
  • Reality distortion – Hearing voices or having difficulty discerning what is real and what is not needs the assistance of a psychiatrist
  • Other psychotic symptoms like intense high energy mixed with the inability to sleep
  • Experiencing a disturbance or upset of routine daily life as a result of mental health complications 
  • Suffering from physical illnesses that seemingly arise for no particular reason—mental and physical health are connected and those with mental health conditions may suffer physically as a result 
  • Episodes of rage or extreme anger in which you feel completely mental and out of control; temper tantrums in younger children and adolescents can be signs that they’re struggling with emotions/feelings which they cannot adequately express in words
  • Difficulty sleeping or having nightmares 
  • Experiencing a traumatic event, such as a car accident or domestic abuse situation 
  • Recognizing a desire to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol in an attempt to alleviate symptoms of a mental disorder on one’s own 

This is not an exhaustive list, and you may be experiencing other symptoms which could best be alleviated through speaking with a psychiatrist. Also, if you first meet with a therapist or counselor and find yourself being referred to a psychiatrist, don’t be alarmed. They’re simply working to get you the best help possible to benefit and maintain your recovery.

Reach out today 

Admitting a desire for change and wanting to find the proper people to help you through this time in life is both courageous and humble. Not only will it change your life for the better, it will give you both strength and motivation to face the challenges of life for years to come. 

To learn more about speaking with a psychiatrist, especially if you prefer to speak with someone online, reach out to Pyramid Online Counseling today. Visit our website anytime or call our offices at 833-525-3077 to learn more and begin your journey to recovery and mental health today.

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