What's a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are experts in mental health. They specialise in diagnosing and treating people with mental illness.
Psychiatrists have a deep understanding of physical and mental health – and how they affect each other.
They help people with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and addiction.
What does a psychiatrist do?
Psychiatrists assess all of your mental and physical symptoms.
They make a diagnosis and work with you to develop a management plan for your treatment and recovery.
Psychiatrists provide psychological treatment, prescribe medications and do procedures such as electroconvulsive therapy.
As part of their work, a psychiatrist can:
- provide urgent care for a sudden mental illness
- help you to manage a long-term mental health condition
- provide advice about lifestyle changes
- work with you individually, or with you and your partner, family or carers
- provide second opinions and advice to other doctors and health professionals
- refer you to other health professionals
- admit you to hospital if required.
What can a psychiatrist help with?
A psychiatrist can be of particular help if your mental health condition:
- is complex or difficult to diagnose
- involves suicidal ideas or plans
- is severe or happens suddenly
- needs medication that only a psychiatrist can prescribe
- isn’t responding to standard treatment through your GP (family doctor).
Common reasons why someone might see a psychiatrist:
- problems adjusting after major life changes or stress
- anxiety, worry or fear
- depressed or low mood that doesn’t go away
- suicidal thinking
- thoughts of hurting other people
- hurting yourself on purpose
- too much energy, being unable to sleep, wind down or relax
- constant negative thoughts
- obsessional thinking
- feeling on edge or jumpy
- feeling like people are after you or want to harm you
- hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
- delusions (fixed beliefs with no basis in reality)
- rushing, disjointed thoughts
- out of control alcohol or drug use
- problem gambling, gaming or other addictive behaviours
- problems around body image, eating or dieting
- memory problems
- poor concentration and attention, hyperactivity
- violence, agitation or emotional outbursts
- insomnia and other sleep problems
- conditions that start in childhood such as autism, intellectual disability and childhood anxiety.
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