Psychiatry is a branch of medicine dedicated to the study, treatment and monitoring of mental disorders. The main difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is that the psychiatrist has the right to diagnose psychiatric diseases and prescribe medication. Psychologists deal primarily with mild mental disorders, such as simple phobias, anxiety disorders and mild depression, and offer psychotherapy. Psychiatrists deal with more severe mental disorders, such as major depression, psychotic episodes and personality disorders, that require medications or hospital treatment. Most often, psychiatrists diagnose and treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, eating disorders (including anorexia and bulimia), obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, various addictions, psychoses and personality disorders.

In psychiatry, the main methods of studying patients include conversation with a patient, psychiatric interview and observation of behavior. If necessary, it is also possible to use various psychological tests and imaging studies of the nervous system, such as computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain, pathway imaging (tractography) and functional MRI (fMRI). During recent times, genetic testing has been adopted in psychiatry to assess the risk of developing a psychiatric disease. Certain genetic patterns can be hereditary and facilitate the development of schizophrenia or risky behavior in traffic, for example.

Before assigning a psychiatric diagnosis, somatic (that is, bodily) diseases causing similar symptoms must be excluded. There are several diseases that can lead to conditions similar to mental disorders, such as thyroid disorders, liver and kidney diseases, and different drug poisonings. Deficiency of vitamin B12 may lead to memory problems and low blood sugar can cause confusion. In order to diagnose more complicated psychiatric diseases, it is essential to gather information on the patient from his or her friends and relatives and also other specialists who have treated the patient before.

It is certainly not a good idea to postpone or be afraid of consulting a psychiatrist as timely treatment can prevent from developing serious social problems and from losing working ability because of a mental disorder. With mild mental problems and stress it is reasonable to first consult your family doctor or a psychologist.


    • Psychiatrist’s consultation

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      A psychiatrist is a specialized physician who focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of mental and mood disorders. The first appointment with a psychiatrist lasts about an hour. During this time, the doctor will create an atmosphere of trust and ask the patient about the problem and its background. If necessary, the psychiatrist performs additional tests to clarify the situation or prescribes necessary analyses or tests. The psychiatrist will try to find a suitable solution to the mental health problem together with the patient.