Psychologist vs Psychiatrist What's the difference?

by Dr. Pranjal on July 10, 2023 , 5 min read

Take a look at this if you suspect that you might be depressed. These might be depressive disorder symptoms and may prevent you from engaging in social activities and having a normal life. Signs such as:

  • Long-lasting drowsiness
  • Your eating and sleeping habits are irregular
  • Low energy and general fatigue
  • Decreased motivation to do things
  • Loss of happiness in the things you usually enjoy
  • Substance abuse may also be a cause

It may be challenging to know where to go if you are experiencing signs of depression and anxiety and need medical attention. While both psychiatrists and psychologists treat patients with depression, there are distinctions in their training, experience, and treatment plans that should be considered before choosing a physician. Now let us look in-depth at their differences and similarities. 

Who is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has had residency training in the diagnosis and medication treatment of mental health diseases. Psychiatrists treat patients with mental health disorders that need medication, like schizophrenia, depression and anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, etc. They work in hospitals, university medical centers, prisons, rehabilitation facilities, etc. Psychological examinations, in-person assessments, and lab testing are frequently used by psychiatrists to make diagnoses.

Medication is advised in accordance with observations and outcomes. Treatment plans include psychotherapy sessions, drugs, or a combination of both. Psychiatrists, like clinical psychologists, identify and treat mental health issues. Psychiatrists may also prescribe medication to treat the psychiatric disease in addition to psychotherapy. Psychiatrists are equipped to evaluate both the mental and physical components of psychological problems, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

There are several reasons why people turn to a psychiatrist for assistance. Some people may exhibit covert behaviors including panic episodes, hallucinations, or suicidal thoughts.

What is a psychologist?

Although they have a doctorate in psychology, clinical psychologists are not medical doctors and therefore cannot provide medication for mental health disorders. Psychologists use talk therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy to help patients comprehend their symptoms and learn how to control them. Psychologists work in many of the same settings as psychiatrists. 

Psychologists monitor behaviors and patterns. Primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare professionals may be able to assist with anxiety disorders and depression in addition to psychiatrists and psychologists. To assist persons who are depressed or anxious, they plan and carry out psychotherapy or talk therapy. 

Psychologists do not need a medical degree to treat anxiety or depressive disorders, unlike psychiatrists. They often graduate with a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D.) or a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.).

When Should You See a Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist?

You may want to think about seeing a psychiatrist who will be able to prescribe medications you need if you have a complex mental health issue that either you know or suspect requires medication, such as severe depression and anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or anything else with hallucinations or delusions.

Talking to a psychologist could be a good first step if you're having a hard time and want to understand what's going on in your life. A psychologist can offer you many therapy choices that can be suitable for you and your mental health needs.

Differences in treatment between psychiatrists and psychologists


Psychotherapy, or talking with patients about their issues, is used by both psychiatrists and psychologists to identify mental health disorders, although their approaches to medication treatment plans are different. With a focus on the biological components of mental disease and the use of medicine to treat symptoms, psychiatrists use a medical approach. For instance, thyroid conditions can exhibit symptoms that are similar to depression—psychiatrists take into account a patient's whole medical history. However, psychologists place a greater emphasis on thought and behavior and work to identify patterns in the patient's life that may contribute to their symptoms.

Who should you see to treat your depression?

The kind of mental health specialist you see will depend on a number of variables, including: 

  1. The severity of your medical condition and
  2. Preferences for treatment. 

A psychiatrist will be able to rule out any other medical disorders if you are suffering from severe depression and will be able to provide medication that can be tailored and improved to meet your individual needs. Nevertheless, a prescription may not be required if you're going through a difficult period and want to focus on better understanding your thoughts and behaviours. A psychologist can help you with this on an ongoing basis.

Sometimes it is beneficial to consult with a psychiatrist and a psychologist, with the psychologist providing regular therapy sessions and the psychiatrist handling medication management. 

Choosing a Psychiatrist

Selecting your healthcare provider is a unique and private decision. Your primary care doctor can recommend you to the appropriate psychiatrist based on your medical history and mental illness, so you might wish to discuss this with them. If you are experiencing any depression symptoms that seriously affect your body or your ability to live life, a psychiatrist is the one you choose. 

Choosing a Psychologist


There are numerous ways to zero down on a psychologist. You can ask your primary care doctor for recommendations, or make a call to the psychology department at a nearby institution. You might also look for psychologists in your neighbourhood, community mental health facilities, or other locations where you feel at ease.

Do they have similarities?

There are certain similarities between the two professions because both work in the mental health sector, including their emphasis on end goals and research skills. People with mental health issues can get assistance from psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists. Both types of healthcare providers can treat and help patients suffering from various mental diseases.

At Kindly, we have expert psychologists and psychiatrists who can help you with your concerns. Sometimes talking to someone who can give you the best advice in times of crisis is essential. Click here to book a one-on-one session with our experts. 

Whatever their title, these individuals are trained to provide care for others. Many individuals view the field of psychology and psychiatry as a "doctor for the mind."

Everybody's objectives are typical to help the customer get better mental health and a better frame of mind.

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by Dr. Pranjal on July 10, 2023 , 5 min read

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