Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health. They focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, including substance use and addiction. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. Through their education and training, psychiatrists understand the body's functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illnesses. As physicians, psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication to help restore imbalances in body chemistry that are often a large part of mental illnesses. They can also order or perform medical lab testing and psychological tests which, combined with discussions with patients, help provide a picture of a patient's physical and mental state. Psychiatrists can select from many effective treatments and work with patients to create the best treatment plan.

Source: MedlinePlus and American Psychiatric Association

Note: This definition was prepared to help consumers find reliable health resources on the web. This site is not responsible for the information on other sites. The information here — and on all websites — is not intended to be a substitute for care given to you by a health professional.

Recommended Reading

American Psychiatric Association
This link directs you to the public section of the American Psychiatric Association website, which includes information on how to choose a psychiatrist, psychiatric medications, and information about specific conditions.

Colorado Psychiatric Society
The Colorado Psychiatric Society site includes a public resource section with information about mental illness and an online resource listing.

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