A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specialises in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological issues.
People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. Problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing "voices". Other issues may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiety that never seem to lift or problems functioning, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.
In diagnosing patients, psychiatrists can order or perform a full range of medical laboratory and psychological tests which, combined with discussions with the patient, help provide a picture of their physical and mental state.
A psychiatrist's education and clinical training equips them to understand the complex relationship between emotional and other medical illnesses and the relationships with genetics and family history, to evaluate medical and psychological data, to make a diagnosis, and to work with patients to develop treatment plans.
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