Resources for the Public

What is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illnesses and emotional problems.  Because of extensive medical training, the psychiatrist understands the body’s functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illnesses.  The psychiatrist is thus the mental health professional and physician best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress.

Why choose a Psychiatrist?

Of all the mental health providers in the United States, only psychiatrists are fully licensed medical doctors.  Because they are physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical laboratory and psychological test that provide a complete picture of a patients’s physical and mental state.  Their education and years of clinical experience equip them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illness, evaluate all the medical and psychological data, make a diagnosis, develop a treatment plan and provide comprehensive treatment including individual, group, family and marital psychotherapy.  Also, as physicians, they are the only mental health providers who can prescribe medication and order medical tests.

What is Mental Illness?

Mental Illness is an illness that affects or is manifested in a person’s brain.  It may impact the way a person thinks, behaves, and interacts with other people.  The term “mental illness” actually encompasses numerous psychiatric disorders, and just like illnesses that affect other parts of the body, they can vary in severity.  Many people suffering from mental illness may not look as though they are ill or that something is wrong, while others may appear to be confused, agitated, or withdrawn.

In the past 20 years especially, psychiatric research has made great strides in the precise diagnosis and successful treatment of many mental illnesses.  Where once mentally ill people were warehoused in public institutions because they were disruptive or feared to be harmful to themselves or others, today most people who suffer from mental illness, including those that can be extremely debilitating, such as schizophrenia, can be treated effectively and live full lives.

What are the most common psychiatric disorders?

  • Depression
  • Manic Depression (also known as Bipolar Disorder)
  • Substance Abuse
  • Panic Disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Delirium
  • Specific and Social Phobias
  • Dementia
  • Attention-Deficit Disorder
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
  • Learning Disorders
  • Eating Disorders
  • Sexual Disorders
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Dissociative and Personality Disorders

What are warning signs of depression?

The signs of depression can include frequent:

  • Feelings of isolation
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Sudden loss or gain of weight
  • Chronic pain
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Feeling sad or “down”
  • Loss of energy for daily activities