The Difference Between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist

A lot of people confuse psychiatrists and psychologists where they fail to understand who among them they should run to for an answer to the health condition of their loved one. To help you with this, here are the main differences between the two:


A psychiatrist deals with complex health conditions such as:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Chronic depression
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Attempted suicide or one who harbors suicidal thoughts

A psychologist, on the other hand, handles the patients whose condition is treatable using a psychological treatment such as behavioral complications, difficulties in learning, depression, and also anxiety.


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has been trained for about 11 years or more. He will graduate as a medical doctor, train for at least two years on being a general doctor and once this is done, he will undergo further training that will take 5 years on diagnosing and treating mental illness.

A psychologist will undergo training for about 6 years at the university where he will be under supervision in order to gain the required experience. He is not trained to be a medical doctor and his only area of specialty is in treating mental illness.

To get an appointment with a psychiatrist, you will have to be referred by your family doctor. For a psychologist, however, you will not need any referral from your family doctor.

Most of the times, a psychologist and a psychiatrist will work together where the psychiatrist will make the first assessment and diagnose the problem and later, ask you to consult a psychologist for psychological treatment.

A psychiatrist’s area of specialty is quite broad as he will base the treatment on what he thinks will be the best option and this could be psychological treatment, provision of medications, brain stimulation therapy, and general health care just like any other medical doctor. A psychologist has not received training as a doctor and he will exclusively deal with psychological issues.

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