Being Referred to a Psychiatrist: What You Need to Know

If you have been diagnosed with a mental illness, your GP may give you a referral to a psychiatrist. This article will explain the role a psychiatrist can play in treating your mental health condition. Read on to find out everything you need to know.

The definition of a psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specialises in treating psychological issues and mental health problems. A psychiatrist trains as a general medical doctor and then embarks upon several years of training so they can become a specialist in the field of psychiatry. During their training, the doctor will learn about every mental health condition, the signs and symptoms and the different forms of treatment.

How a psychiatrist can help you

A psychiatrist can help you in a range of ways. To begin with, your doctor will complete an assessment with you. During this assessment, they will ask you about how you are feeling. They may also wish to explore events from your past which may have contributed to your poor mental health. For example, if you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), your doctor may ask you about the traumatic event which triggered the mental illness. They will also ask you about other factors such as your relationships with your family, your work and your cultural background. Once this assessment has been completed, the psychiatrist may be able to offer you a diagnosis. Receiving a diagnosis is important, as it will open up different treatment pathways.

The treatments can a psychiatrist offer

A psychiatrist shouldn't be confused with a therapist. While your psychiatrist will want to talk with you about your feelings, they are not there to analyse things or to help you to explore or process your emotions. If your doctor thinks you will benefit from therapy, they can make a referral to a psychotherapist. Your psychiatrist can also prescribe medications which may help you to manage your mental health, such as antidepressants and antianxiety medication. They may also recommend that you attend mental health peer support groups so you can connect with others who have received a similar diagnosis.

The frequency of visits to see a psychiatrist

The frequency of your visit to the will depend on how unwell you are. At first, your doctor may wish to see you on a weekly basis. However, as you begin to stabilise and respond to medication or other treatments, the frequency of the visits may be reduced.