Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: What's the difference between Psychologist and Psychiatrist?

Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: In this articles we will discover the key differences between psychologist and psychiatrist, their similarities, pros & cons, and answer some of he frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: Key Differences, Pros & Cons, FAQ

Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: though both the practitioners treat emotional, mental, and behavioral disorders. The psychologist and psychiatrist difference lies in the scope of their functions. While a psychologist is not a medical doctor and cannot prescribe medicines, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe any medicine as and when he may deem fit.

Considering psychologist vs. psychiatrist definitions for deeper knowledge

Who is a psychologist?

The psychologist definition from Merriam-Webster describes a psychologist as a person who is specialized in the study and treatment of mental and behavioral disorders. 

Who is a psychiatrist?

The psychiatrist definition from Merriam-Webster describes a psychiatrist to be a medical doctor diagnosing and treating mental and behavioral disorders.

Looking at the similarities between psychiatrists and psychologists

  • Psychologists and psychiatrists are doctors that are trained to deal with a patient's mental health issues. 
  • Both of them undertake a medical internship of at least a year.
  • Both can prescribe medicines to their patients. Where a psychologist needs to undertake a course in Psychopharmacology for this, it already falls under the scope of a psychiatrist.
  • Both psychologists and psychiatrists are trained in psychotherapy, i.e. the talking therapy. They use it to address the problems of their patients. 

Can a psychologist diagnose?

Yes, a psychologist is trained to diagnose mental illness. That said, his training and knowledge are not that extensive and he might consult a psychiatrist if need be. 

Differentiate between a psychiatrist, psychologist, and a therapist

To know about psychiatrist vs. psychologist vs. therapist accurately, it is a must to know their level of training and expertise in the field:

  • A psychiatrist has 11 or more years of training, an advanced degree, and the authority to administer strong medical drugs for treating mental disorders.
  • A psychologist has 6 years of training and an advanced degree to treat mental illness. Sparingly, they can be allowed to administer mild medical drugs. 
  • Talking about a therapist, one might be referring to any of the following; a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or a counselor. 

Differentiate between psychologist vs. psychiatrist for depression cures

A ‘clinical psychologist vs. psychiatrist’ scope varies while curing depression. A psychologist can address general depression problems without touching the related medical aspects. A psychiatrist, on the other hand, can treat severe depression and the medical conditions associated with it.

How do psychologists diagnose?

Psychologists diagnose by gathering all the information about the patient. This is usually done by making the patient fill out a psychological questionnaire. 

What is the point of seeing a psychologist?

Psychologists are extremely helpful in keeping depression and other mental illnesses away and prevent us from a stressful life. Considering psychiatrist vs. psychologist for anxiety, psychologists are effective in clearing our mind blockages by driving out stress and anxiety. For example, when considering child psychiatrist vs. psychologist to address child mental health problems, parents are turning more to psychologists. 

What are the 7 types of mental disorders?

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Addiction
  • Eating disorders
  • Developmental disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Psychotic disorders
  • Personality disorders

Who makes more money between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, psychologist vs. psychiatrist salary has a winner: psychiatrists. The yearly mean salary of a psychiatrist in 2018 was $2,20,000. And how much do psychologists make? It was around $1,10,000 annually. 

What are the first signs of going crazy?

  • Sadness;
  • Reduced concentration;
  • Extreme mood swings;
  • Unusual fatigue; and
  • Withdrawal from the social circle. 

How often should you see a psychologist?

As a general thumb rule, weekly sessions for the first 4 or 6 weeks must be attended to hit a repertoire. Also, the recommendations of a particular psychologist matter. 

How to become a psychologist? 

  • Step 1: Earn a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.
  • Step 2: Earn a master’s or doctoral degree.
  • Step 3: Complete 1-2 years of internship or earn a postdoctoral program, depending on the state you are in. 
  • Step 4: Obtain the license as per the states’ regulation to start practice. 

Listing the pros and cons of a psychologist and a psychiatrist

Pros of a Psychiatrist

  • Being a medical doctor, he has the requisite knowledge to grasp the root of the medical issue.
  • He can administer advanced medical drugs if need be.

Cons of a Psychiatrist

  • The course duration is too lengthy.

Pros of a Psychologist

  • The course duration is not too long like MDs.

Cons of a Psychologist

  • They are barred from administering advanced medical drugs to address a mental health problem.
  • Since they aren’t medical doctors, it is rarely possible for them to unearth mental problems arising from neurological or biological disorders. 

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

BasisPsychologistPsychiatrist
EducationA psychologist is not an MD, i.e. Medical Doctor.A psychiatrist is a medical doctor. 
Tests A psychologist is trained in conducting psychological tests like personality or IQ tests.Psychological tests don't come under the ambit of a psychiatrist profile.
Administering medicinesA psychologist is not allowed to prescribe medicines. Since a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, he can prescribe any medicine as and when he may deem fit.
TrainingA psychologist must have at least 6 years of training.A psychiatrist must have at least 11 years of training experience.
Treatments administeredA psychologist provides psychological treatments.Psychological treatments, general medical care, medication, and brain stimulation therapies are some of the treatments of a psychiatrist.
Conditions treatedA psychologist would address a psychological condition like depression.A psychiatrist would treat medical conditions along with the psychological ones. For eg, severe depression. 
Fixing an appointment To fix an appointment with a psychologist, one does not need a referral from his GP.To fix an appointment with a psychiatrist, one would need a referral from his GP. 

Comparison Chart

Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: In this articles we will discover the key differences between psychologist and psychiatrist, their similarities, pros & cons, and answer some of he frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Comparison Video

The Difference between a Psychiatrist and Psychologist

Conclusion: Should I see a psychologist or a psychiatrist?

When unsure of meeting a psychologist or psychiatrist, one should first talk to his GP (General Practitioner or family doctor). If consulting a GP is not possible, one should probably see a psychiatrist who would then refer you to a psychologist or take up the case himself, as he may deem fit.

Author & Researcher @ Difference 101 Master in Philosophy & Data Analysis, Sorbonne Université (Graduated 2011) Lived in New York City

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