What is a Psychiatrist?

Kristin Hall

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 10/31/2022

Updated 10/24/2021

The stigma among men of needing, seeking out and experiencing mental healthcare is real. Tragically, that stigma is harming and even killing men in need.

As guys, we’re pretty comfortable saying most of us have been there.

The good news, however, is mental healthcare continues to become destigmatized.  As mental healthcare stigmas continue to crumble, hope for better mental health among men is increasing. 

If you’re hoping to begin some form of healthcare for some kind of mental disorder, finding the right kind of care can be dizzying. 

Psychiatrists are just one in an array of therapists, psychologists, counselors and other mental health professionals specifically trained to help folks with a mental disorder. 

They have their own specialized practices and serve specific populations of people seeking help.

Want to know what exactly a psychiatrist is and when you should focus on finding one to help with your mental health issues? Read on.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who generally has a medical degree specifically in treating mental disorders. 

They’ve completed four years of medical school, as well as four years of psychiatry residency and even additional training that helps address an assortment of psychiatric disorders. 

Once they’re practicing, psychiatrists have an assortment of tools at their disposal to treat patients. Among them, psychiatrists can use psychotherapy, medications and psychosocial interventions. 

Further, psychiatrists can treat their patients' psychiatric and other mental health conditions with other methodologies, including electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

It’s all about what your needs are as a patient and going from there.

Because they have a medical degree and plenty of clinical training, psychiatrists can prescribe medication to relieve — and even improve — your mental state. 

Above all, it’s their ability to prescribe medication that sets psychiatrists from others in the field of mental healthcare. This is a key difference between psychiatrists and other mental health professionals.

Psychologists, for example, don’t prescribe medications to patients.  Psychologists instead are trained in a variety of forms of mental care. Some practices include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and behavioral therapy. 

Because of their extensive medical training — and our evolving, improving understanding of the brain and human behavior — psychiatrists increasingly have more ways to help their patients. 

Before you’re even talking prescriptions with your psychiatrist, however, they’ll do a thorough evaluation of your mental state — and your needs. 

What’s important is that your psychiatrist tailors their expertise to fit your needs. Part of the evaluation process is simply a psychiatrist listening to you and figuring out what your specific needs are at that given time.

Here are some of the ways psychiatrists help their patients:

  • Provide care and, consequently, relief and an improved mental state.

  • Create mental health treatment plans to help you help yourself, both with talk therapy and proper medication.

  • Work with you individually or, if necessary, with your partner, family or someone else you want to include in your healing process.

  • Advise on ways of improving your day-to-day lifestyle.

  • Be a second opinion to that of a doctor, another medical professional or confidants giving you advice.

The reasons for seeking out professional help vary. Whether you're seeking adolescent psychiatry, adult assistance or even geriatric psychiatry, there are always options available.

A patient may be undergoing a lifelong struggle with depression, or someone could simply be in a rut in which a professional helping hand is the way out. 

Most importantly, the reasons for seeking out help are never the same. The reasons for seeking out help are the patient’s business. It’s the psychiatrist’s job to respect the patient’s needs and to then deliver on their behalf.

Here are a few reasons people sometimes seek psychiatric help:

  • Challenges with anxiety.

  • Psychotic disorders.

  • Panic disorder.

  • Bipolar disorder.

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

  • Sleep Issues.

  • Thoughts of hurting yourself.

  • Substance abuse.

  • Other assorted mental disorders and mental health conditions.

online mental health assessment

your mental health journey starts here

The mental health field encompasses an array of mental health disorders and mental health conditions. The field of psychiatry prepares professionals to effectively care for patients with an assortment of treatment methods. 

A primary reason for seeking out psychiatric help is to work with someone who can administer medication. Here are a few examples of the psychiatric medications they can administer:

  • Antidepressants — These can treat anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), borderline personality disorder, severe depression or other ailments, mood disorders or anxiety disorders.

  • Antipsychotics — These medications can help with psychotic symptoms, such as: hallucinations, bipolar, schizophrenia and others.

  • Sedatives and Anxiolytics — These can quell anxiety and insomnia.

  • Hypnotics — These can help you fall and stay asleep.

  • Mood Stabilizers — These are typically used to address bipolar disorder.

  • Stimulants — These are commonly used to help people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

While these methods for treating a patient seem scary or overwhelming, a psychiatrist has extensive knowledge of the effects of every treatment. 

What’s important if you’re working with a psychiatrist is that you evaluate — together — the treatment’s effects on your mental state.

Like seeing any licensed professional, the cost of seeing a psychiatrist depends on many things — namely, whether you have healthcare coverage, and then the quality of your coverage. Other contributing factors can be where you live and your healthcare plan’s monthly premium.

Typically, your first appointment with a psychiatrist can be costly.  After your initial visit, however, the cost of regular psychiatric appointments is less.

Good news: you’re already on a website that can immediately find you a psychiatrist. You can use our online psychiatric evaluation to speak with licensed providers who can immediately help you in improving your mental state.

Atop Hims’ resources, there are several other ways to find a psychiatrist and choose a psychiatrist.

First, you can consult with your healthcare provider to find psychiatrists who are covered in-network to reduce the cost of your treatment.

Second, you can consult with friends and family you trust to find you healthcare professionals to help you with your immediate needs.

psych meds online

psychiatrist-backed care, all from your couch

Mental healthcare is not a scarlet letter — it’s just something people need at some point in their lives. The important thing is you don’t hesitate to ask for and seek out help when you need it.

When the time comes to get a little help, it’s important to understand that there are many means to help you help yourself. 

Psychiatry is an effective, proven tool to help you overcome the challenges life inevitably throws your way.

10 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Chantmon, Dr. Benita N. July-August 2020. Males and Mental Health Stigma. US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from:
  2. Staff: The Mayo Clinic. 24 May 2017. Mental Health: Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness. The Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from:
  3. Medical Blog. St. George’s University. 9 January 2019. What is a Psychiatrist? Retrieved from:
  4. American Psychiatric Association. What is Psychiatry? Retrieved from:
  5. Canadian Mental Health Association, British Columbia Division. 2015. What’s the Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a Registered Psychologist? Retrieved from:
  6. California Board of Psychology. California Department of Consumer Affairs. Publication Date Unavailable. Can California Psychologists Prescribe? Retrieved from:
  7. The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. Publication Date Unavailable. What’s a Psychiatrist? Retrieved from:
  8. K., Weich, S., Stansfeld, S., Bebbington, P., Brugha, T., Spiers, N., … & Cooper, C. (2016). Chapter 3: Mental health treatment and services. In S. McManus, P. Bebbington, R. Jenkins, & T. Brugha (Eds.), Mental health and wellbeing in England: Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey 2014. Leeds: NHS Digital. Retrieved from:
  9. American Psychiatric Association. Publication Date Unavailable. What Is Psychiatry? Retrieved from: Leonhardt, Megan. 10 May 2021.
  10. What You Need to Know About the Cost and Accessibility of Mental Healthcare in America. CNBC. Retrieved from:

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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