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What is a Psychiatrist and what does it mean to be Board-Certified in this specialty?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who completes four years of medical school and after graduation completes another four years of clinical and didactic training to gain expertise in the evaluation and treatment of mental illness.

Before a physician earns their medical doctorate, they complete on average 4,000 hours of training in the general knowledge of medicine including human biology, pathology and disease processes, social determinants of health and clinical treatment of disease. After completion of their MD, physicians start four years of psychiatry residency training where they complete more than 10,000 hours of clinical experience in treating patients with mental illness. In this training they gain knowledge and expertise in many factors that contribute to mental illness including genetic predispositions, mechanisms of disease, biopsychosocial evaluation, medical problems, systems and epidemiology and all treatment modalities including medication management, psychotherapy, lifestyle interventions and non-medication treatment modalities. 

It is this level of training and experience that support a psychiatrist in making diagnosis and offering treatments at the highest standard of care to patients suffering with mental illness.

 

What does it mean to be ABPN Board Certified. Receiving board certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology acknowledges that a psychiatrist has completed all training requirements and passed extensive testing which demonstrates that a physician has sufficient experience and knowledge in the care of psychiatric patients, and upholds the standards of the general psychiatric community in the United States.

 

When should someone see a psychiatrist? 

When should people see a psychiatrist? If a person is suffering from mood fluctuations, anxiety, sleep problems, substance use, symptoms stemming from prior trauma, suicidal thoughts, persistent behavioral problems and psychotic symptoms which interfere with their normal, day to day functioning they may seek psychiatric care. It is especially important to seek care if these symptoms are ongoing and are not improving with adequate sleep, exercise, behavioral interventions and support from loved ones. 

Psychiatry Services