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Psychiatrists: Doctors for Mental Health Treatment

Written by Dr Spurti Psychiatrist

Last updated on 19 August 2020

The magnitude and burden of mental health disorders

WHO (2003) defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity – a mentally fit person is someone who can recognize their abilities, cope with the everyday stressors of life, work productively, and make a meaningful contribution to society. But mental illness, on the other hand, is a disability that affects the entire society, and no one group is immune to it. And if you were to go by the WHO statistics, they are staggering:

  • Each year, depression and anxiety cost the global economy 1 trillion USD. Mental health is intrinsically woven into all areas of your life and can affect schooling, employment, relationships, family, friends and community. 
  • The last decade (to 2017) saw a rise in mental illnesses by 13% due to changes in the demography (change in population due to birth, ageing, deaths, migration, race, ethnicity, gender, education, employment etc.)
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 18 – 29-year-olds. One million people commit suicide every year.
  • One in every five individuals suffers from a mental health condition in post-conflict regions.
  • Persons with severe mental illnesses die prematurely by two decades.
  • 4 out of 6 leading causes of years lived with disability (YLD) are due to neuropsychiatric disorders, namely depression, substance abuse, schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. YLD is a mathematical equation scientists use to measure years of healthy life lost due to disability.
  • 1 in 4 families has at least one individual with a mental health condition.

Even though no one is immune to mental illness, the risk is relatively higher with the vulnerable in our societies: children, women, adolescents, unemployed, migrants, refugees and the elderly.

Table of Contents

Who is a psychiatrist?

Usually, when you fall sick, the doctors diagnose the disease by looking at your symptoms – by checking for abnormalities in the temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, injuries, infection etc. These symptoms are called somatic symptoms, i.e., visible symptoms related to the body. 

But how about when all your blood reports, vitals, scans and X-rays are normal, and you still feel unwell? The group of illnesses that manifest little to no physical symptoms (non-somatic symptoms) falls under the branch of medicine called psychiatry, and the doctors who treat them are called psychiatrists.

What does a Psychiatrist do?

Psychiatrists, unlike psychologists, are doctors licenced to prescribe mood and thought altering drugs to treat a patient. 

Psychiatrists do not perform any surgery.

To be more precise, psychiatry is that branch of medicine that treats mental health disorders associated with non-somatic symptoms found in the neurological examination of the nervous system.

Some mental health diseases treated by psychiatrists are anxiety, depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic attacks, psychosis, delusions, hallucinations etc.

How often should you see a Psychiatrist?

The frequency of your visit to a Psychiatrist depends on the severity of your mental health condition. In severe cases, you may have to see the Psychiatrist more often, i.e., once or twice a week, and as your mental health improves, you may have to visit them for medication and therapy less frequently. You may need to speak with your Psychiatrist as to what the best treatment is going forward.

What degrees do you need to be a Psychiatrist?

Psychiatrists have an MBBS and an MD in Psychiatry.

How to find a good Psychiatrist?

To find a good Psychiatrist, speak to a family member or friend who can refer you to a good Psychiatrist. You could also search online for doctors; mfine does a great job of providing services closest to you, i.e., they’d connect you with doctors near you. Usually, there are ratings and reviews online for the quality of services provided to help you decide what’s best for you.

How to choose a Psychiatrist?

Choosing the right doctor is one of the most important and personal decisions you would make. Following are seven essential tips to help you choose the right Psychiatrist:

  1. Research. There are many Psychiatrists out there. Decide upon the one you would be comfortable with; someone with a good reputation, communication and soft skills.
  2. Get the proper referrals. Speak with your family members, colleagues, friends to help you connect with the right Psychiatrist.
  3. Check for licencing and credentials of the Psychiatrist.
  4. Consider the years of experience of the Psychiatrist.
  5. Consider the gender of the doctor depending on if you would want to disclose your health condition to them.
  6. Consider the communication style of the Psychiatrist; choose a doctor you would gel along with quickly. Developing a rapport helps in communicating efficiently with the doctor. If possible, read patient reviews to help you make the right decisions.
  7. It’s good to know if you would be covered under the insurance plan that you have.

At MFine, we treat your health as our top priority. Book an online appointment, and our specialists will get in touch with you shortly! 

You can consult top Psychiatrists near you all from the comfort of your home — Download the MFine app now or visit our website.

  • Ask the doctor about your symptoms, problems, medications, and more during your consultation.
  • You may have to submit your medical history and records if any, so the doctor can better understand your condition.
  • Post teleconsultation, you could also follow up with your doctor online.
  • Additionally, you can also buy medicines online and get lab tests done using the MFine app, all from the comfort of your home.

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Therapy services offered by psychiatrists

Psychiatrists may also have additional licenses to provide therapies. 

However, if they aren’t licensed, they’d be able to connect you with a licensed mental health professional or a psychologist. Here are some therapies you may want to consider for you or your dear ones:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

It assumes that behaviour arises out of your thought patterns. i.e., when you think positive, you behave positively and are more likely to have a positive emotional response to everyone around you. Conversely, when you have a distorted sense of life, you will most likely end up being miserable.

CBT, therefore, focuses on correcting destructive or disturbing thought patterns to bring about a positive change in behaviour, mood and emotional responses.

Typically, a CBT will require you to sit for therapy sessions over several weeks or months. Your therapist will inquire about your family, relationships, job, schooling, childhood experiences etc., and analyze your thought patterns. They may then suggest ways or help you take the proper steps to address your thought patterns.

CBT involves a confidentiality clause: what’s been shared in the therapy session is not disclosed to a third person. However, that does not protect you from severe crimes you commit, such as murder or rape. In such cases, your therapist will have to cooperate with the law and enforcement agencies and disclose such sensitive information to the police or the court.

Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

It is a popular therapy that involves tapping calming points on your face, arms and palms and chanting reassuring statements to yourself; it may sound something like this: Even though I am nervous, I can win this game for my team. 

EFT is a form of hypnotic therapy that treats pain, emotional distress, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In an EFT session, the therapist will inquire about your family, relationships, job, schooling, childhood experiences etc., and then lead you through a step by step process of tapping techniques and chanting.

EFT, however, isn’t backed by science nor empirical data.

Psychotherapy

It is also called talk therapy; it involves sharing your life experiences in a group setting with like-minded people or with people going through the same struggles as yours, in their lives. Psychotherapy provides a safe environment for participants to vent their emotions healthily without worrying about being judged; what’s said in the group stays with the group. 

Usually, the psychotherapist will lead the group discussions in a meaningful direction that benefits everyone in the group. Psychotherapy sessions can also be done one on one with the psychotherapist.

Psychotherapy methods are used in Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) meetings to treat alcoholics and also their families. Alcoholism is a disease that affects both the alcoholic and their family; while the alcoholic drinks, their family goes through immense emotional pain and shame in the society. They both become patients of different mental disorders. Therefore, they both require separate psychotherapy sessions: one to heal from alcoholism and the other from emotional scars caused by the alcoholic.

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