Can a Psychiatrist Prescribe Medications – Overview
Medications are crucial to treating the signs and symptoms of various mental health conditions. A psychiatrist is a professional licensed and trained in medicine and has the necessary knowledge and the authority to prescribe medications with written prescriptions. In addition, there are different types of psychiatrists specializing in different aspects of psychiatry.
Some of the most common mental health problems that are treated with prescription medication from psychiatrists include depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
What Kind of Medications Can Psychiatrists Prescribe?
Let’s take a closer look at the kind of medications that psychiatrists in the United States are allowed to prescribe to treat different types of mental health problems:
1 – Antidepressants
Major depressive disorder is a common symptom of many mental health conditions, including borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder and even schizophrenia. Antidepressant medications can help treat depression in most patients. Studies have shown that over 13% of adults in the US are currently on antidepressants.
Antidepressants work by helping to balance neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are serotonin, norepinephrine, etc. These are necessary to ensure better sleep, mood regulation, and ability to focus and concentrate, among other things. In simple words, antidepressants help to acquire a better mood and stabilize emotions.
However, it would be best if you remembered that antidepressant medication does not cure depression. It only treats the symptoms and their effects. For optimal treatment of depression, antidepressants must be combined with talk therapy and other lifestyle changes.
2 – Anti-Anxiety Medications
Anxiety is another common symptom that is related to several mental health issues. It is a diagnosable mental health condition classified as a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), with various disorders included within this umbrella term. Studies have shown that nearly 40 million adults in the United States suffer from one or more anxiety disorders.
People with anxiety disorders usually experience debilitating panic attacks, with a lingering feeling of something bad about to happen. Anti-anxiety medication is extremely helpful for such individuals. Anti-anxiety medicines increase the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain to help you feel relaxed and calm your nerves.
3 – Mood Stabilizers
Psychiatrists usually prescribe mood stabilizers for individuals who suffer from dramatic and sudden mood swings with an inability to control the sudden changes in their moods. This also includes people with bipolar and schizophrenic disorders.
Mood stabilizer medications work by altering abnormally high brain activity. These medications are also useful in preventing depressive and manic episodes.
4 – Stimulants
Stimulants commonly treat certain mental health conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Stimulants take effect by increasing the dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter related to pleasure, happiness, and feeling motivated. For most people with ADHD, stimulants can help improve their focus and concentration. This form of ADHD medication also helps reduce impulsive behaviors.
5 – Antipsychotic Medications
Antipsychotic medication is used to treat people who have hallucinations (auditory, visual or both). This means that their mental condition makes them hear or see things that are not real, but the patient cannot identify the difference between reality and hallucination.
Antipsychotic medications are sometimes also used in off-label form to treat other mental health issues, such as bipolar disorders, depression and other similar diagnoses. For example, individuals suffering from hallucinations are usually diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, for whom antipsychotic medication can bring significant relief.
Antipsychotic medications work by blocking dopamine reception in the brain. While some medications are used to effectively increase the level of dopamine in the patient’s brain, antipsychotic drugs are designed to block certain communications within the brain.
This essentially helps to reduce abnormal communication, which may be the cause of delusions and hallucinations. Though antipsychotic drugs are generally used as schizophrenic medication, it is extremely effective in managing noticeable symptoms of several psychotic disorders.
What distinguishes a psychologist from a psychiatrist?
There are significant differences between psychologists and psychiatrists. A psychologist can treat behavioral problems that are distressing or hazardous to their patients' health without using drugs.
However, a psychiatrist can use talk therapy to know their patient and prescribe medication to treat mental health issues.
How much does a psychiatrist's appointment cost?
Psychiatric therapy is a long-term process. It requires multiple sessions with a psychiatrist to recover from your condition. The initial appointment may cost you between $300 to $500. However, you may need to pay $100 to $200 per session for the follow-up appointments.
How long does it take to become a psychiatrist?
After earning your undergraduate degree, you must complete four years of medical school. 3 to 7 years of training as a psychiatric intern and resident are necessary to become a psychiatrist.
After receiving your board certification, you can also look into several fellowship programs for specialization.
Usually, medication for mental health conditions works well when combined with some form of psychotherapy, such as talk therapy. However, it would be best if you also understood that, unlike medicines for most medical conditions, psychiatric medications could take several weeks to take effect and show noticeable improvement in their symptoms. You can find the best and most affordable psychiatrist near you by consulting your primary care physician.