The Dr. Jim Show: Psychiatry vs Psychology

By January 9, 2020January 14th, 2021No Comments

To kick off 2020, the Dr. Jim Show, a mental health podcast led by North End Psychiatry’s own Dr. James Saccomando Jr., aimed to point out the difference between psychology and psychiatry, what to expect on your first visit to a psychiatrist, and how winter can spur on feelings of despair.

Winter is the Perfect Time to Take Stock of Your Mental Health

Winter is typically associated with coldness, short days, gray skies, and little to no sunlight during the day. For some people, their seemingly desolate surroundings can lead to mental health maladies such as depression or seasonal affective disorder.

You may be affected by one or more of these conditions if you find yourself suffering from:

  • Daytime drowsiness

  • irritability

  • Decreased sex drive

  • Difficulty thinking clearly

  • Weight gain

  • Feelings of sadness, anger, irritability, anxiety, frustration, and/or suicide

Examples of treatments that address seasonal affective disorder may include: psychotherapy (talk therapy), medication, and/or light therapy, but the types of doctors who administer these treatments is at the very core of what differentiates psychology from psychiatry.

Psychiatry versus Psychology

The American Psychological Association defines psychology as “the scientific study of people’s behaviors during their mental processes.” 

In contrast, the American Psychiatric Association defines psychiatry as “the focus on diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorder.”

Where a psychologist focuses on talk therapy and administering various tests (ink blots, sand box, etc.), psychiatrists train under residencies to obtain a medical degree in order to facilitate treatment through medications, electroconductive therapy (ECT), and more.

Even though the respective degrees that each field requires in order to practice differ, they typically have access to the same educational resources, referrals can be made between them, and depending on your state, psychologists with the right training can prescribe medication, which is a privilege generally reserved for psychiatrists.

So which treatment path is right for you?

What to Expect on Your First Visit

As mentioned earlier, referrals can go both ways. If you are against medication or are deemed to be better served by talk therapy, your psychiatrist may refer you to a psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy.

However, if you’ve been recommended medication and/or therapy as a treatment modality, it’s important to know what to expect when you walk in for your first appointment.

Important: write down any critical questions or concerns you may have, as well as any information you’d like your psychiatrist to know before you come in!

The first visit is the information gathering phase and is always the longest at 1 to 1.5 hours. It’s alright to bring in a loved one as a support, but do expect to answer some questions alone during the first visit.

Simple health checks may also be performed before or during your visit, including blood pressure, pulse, reflexes, and more. Do not hesitate to ask as many questions as you’d like, as it’s important to get to know your therapist.

Once the initial evaluation is over, a treatment plan is recommended depending on your current condition and health history. Your subsequent visits after this one are much shorter (typically 20 minutes), but ultimately, it’s up to you to clearly communicate your concerns or needs to get the most out of therapy.

Psychologists and psychiatrists are typically trained to probe any suspected areas of resistance, but they require your full cooperation to provide the best treatment possible.

How North End Psychiatry Can Help

Whether you’re just starting your mental health journey or are ready to try a different approach with a team of passionate and knowledgeable Boise therapists, let our team at North End Psychiatry help you. We’re right around the corner, conveniently located just outside of downtown Boise near 15th and State Street.

Or you can send us an email or give us a call at (208) 345-2212 if you have any questions or need to set up an appointment. We’d love to hear from you.

The Dr. Jim Show can be heard every Sunday afternoon at 5:30 pm on KRBX Radio Boise, the local community radio station—89.9 FM in the Treasure Valley and 93.5 FM around downtown Boise.

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