Difference Between Psychiatrist and Psychologist

Difference Between Psychiatrist and Psychologist

If you are reading this, chances are you must have come across one mental health sensitization or the other. And as such, you understand that insanity is not the only form of mental problems. There are other subtle cases with seemingly negligible symptoms suffered by a large percentage of the world’s populace.

A very good example is depression, which many people ignore at the onset. Ignoring any symptoms of mental illness, no matter how trivial they may seem, can result in very complicated issues. It is best to employ the help of an expert to help deal with the problem. Having said that, who exactly is the right person to talk to in such a case?

This question is very important because many people do not know the difference between psychiatrist and psychologist. This is very understanding considering that experts in these fields have similar job descriptions, but knowing the difference can be helpful.

Definition of Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is defined as a psychiatry specialist or a physician who specializes in mental health problems. They are trained specifically in this branch of medicine, and they are qualified to diagnose, prescribe medications, and manage persons with mental issues. They also help people prevent psychological disorders.

The history of this specialty dates to as far back as the nineteenth century with some aspects tracing back to the eighteenth century. According to Greek historical records, it all began with a custodial asylum where persons considered out of control and dangerous were confined. One of the early heavyweight contributors in this field was Benjamin Rush—the father of American psychiatry.

What are some of the benefits of this field of medicine? This specialty was specially designed for persons who may suffer mental health problems. This includes a wide range of health conditions and even some that are seemingly trivial.

Examples include schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, addiction, eating disorders, etc. It encompasses every disorder that can affect one’s mood, behavior, and thinking. Fundamentally, this field of medicine has a track record of helping people improve their quality of life especially when it comes to general coherency.

Definition of Psychologist

A psychologist is defined as a specialist in the field of psychology. This is a person qualified to study human behavior, identify the motives behind such behavior, and treat them with talk therapy. They are responsible for deciphering how a person thinks, talks, reacts, and interacts. Also, they take into consideration the mental state of their clients—their behavior, thoughts, feelings, and motivation.

In comparing psychiatrist vs psychologist, one can see how their job descriptions overlap, but there are some clear differences between the two. First is their field of qualifications. The former is a medical professional, while the latter is not. This means the former is licensed to prescribe medications, and the latter is not.

The history of this specialty dates back to ancient Greece and became more developed around the world in the nineteenth century. Wilhelm Wundt and William James were credited as the founders of this practice as a science and an academic field of study.

Looking at the comparative outcome of psychologist vs psychiatrist, it is obvious that the services of these experts span quite a wide field including tending to children and the elderly. They both apply to different but equally effective treatment methods. In some cases, the two are combined for a more effective outcome.

Psychiatrist vs Psychologist Comparison Table

There is more to the difference between clinical psychologist and psychiatrist than what you’ve read so far. In the table below, we explained the major differentiating factors between these two professions.

Basis of Comparison Psychiatrist Pshychologist
Definition A medical expert whose job is to diagnose, treat, and prevent mental disorders with the use of medications and therapies when necessary A professional whose job is to diagnose/treat mental disorders and correct behavioral patterns that are related to it with the use of talk therapy
Education Spends at least 11 years Spends at least 6 years
Methods of treatment – Medication
– Brain stimulation therapies
– General medical care
– Psychotherapy
Conditions treated – Severe depression
– Bipolar disorder
– Schizophrenia  
– Learning difficulties
– Conduct issues
– Autism
– Anxiety
– Attention deficit disorder
– Depression

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Psychiatrist vs Psychologist

So far, we’ve managed to answer the question what the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? But the most outstanding of them all has to do with the methods of treating patients in each case.

A psychiatrist (Mr A) is trained and licensed to administer drugs as a medical doctor, but a psychologist (Mr B) can’t prescribe drugs seeing as they are not trained to do so. Mr A can refer a case to Mr B and vice versa considering what the case is all about. For instance, someone who has attempted suicide should be treated by Mr A, and someone who has anger problems needs Mr B.