When to Seek Help From a Psychiatrist

Marked changes in mood and energy level, anxiety, distressing thoughts, and problems with sleep, appetite, and focus are common issues that might lead someone to seek mental health treatment.  The decision of whether to see a psychiatrist or seek another form of help can be confusing and overwhelming.  Many different types of providers may offer psychotherapy of various sorts, but only a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is qualified to conduct a medical evaluation, prescribe medications if indicated, and provide psychotherapy.

For all patients, a through medical evaluation is crucial, as emotional symptoms can sometimes be a product of an underlying medical issue and require careful assessment, labs, and/or other studies to rule out these conditions.  Endocrine, gastrointestinal, hematological, and even vitamin deficiencies are a few examples of medical conditions than can cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms.  Additionally, people with untreated mental illness are far more likely to suffer physical illnesses.  A mental health provider who is not medically trained may not be able to detect the difference and is not qualified to order the appropriate labs or studies to rule out these conditions.   A psychiatrist has the highest level of mental health training, experience, and credentials to safely evaluate the appropriateness of prescribing and effectively managing psychotropic medications.

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