At CPCH we are frequently asked: “What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?”
When I explain that a psychiatrist is a doctor who has specialty training in psychiatry, many say “So you give out pills?”
Yes, much of being a psychiatrist is prescribing medications. However, what many people do not know is that psychiatrists also have extensive training in multiple modalities of psychotherapy (“talking therapy”) and enjoy doing this work.
Sadly, many factors push psychiatrists away from psychotherapy and towards medications:
1) There are not enough psychiatrists to supply the mental health demands, so psychiatrists end up doing the medications and other psychotherapists do the talking.
2) Private insurance and Medicare/Medicaid have very low reimbursements to psychiatrists doing psychotherapy.
3) Psychiatric medications are now advertised directly (TV, internet, etc), so most people come to a psychiatrist with the expectation of taking a pill.
If you are suffering with mild depression or anxiety, psychotherapy can be just as effective as medications and have longer-lasting effects.
However, psychotherapy is not a quick fix and does require a significant commitment of your time, energy, and money.
If you do not want to take medications and are willing to do this work, you should discuss this with a psychiatrist who does psychotherapy. Their enthusiasm might surprise you!