There are many myths surrounding the profession of psychiatry. Unfortunately, because of these misconceptions, some people who need treatment may avoid it. So, let’s debunk a few of these misconceptions.
Myth 1: Patients lie on a couch while listening to the psychiatrist talk.
This couldn’t be further from what actually happens during a session with a psychiatrist. The field of psychiatry has surpassed this antiquated method and it operates more like a partnership. The psychiatrist and patient actually work with one another to determine the best treatment option available.
Myth 2: Psychiatrists treat “crazy” people.
The patients treated by psychiatrists have genuine mental illnesses that are caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. These chemical imbalances often manifest as depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. However, when treated properly, patients are no longer considered ill. These illnesses do not make anyone “crazy”.
Myth 3: Antidepressants are “happy pills”.
While there are some drugs that can make people “happy”, psychiatrists rarely prescribe them. Antidepressants don’t make people feel happy; they simply treat the chemical imbalance that causes major depression. However, because patients often show a boost in their moods, people assume that change in mood is a direct result of antidepressants.
Myth 4: Psychiatrists only prescribe medications.
Many psychiatrists prescribe medications and do not do therapy. However, a significant portion of psychiatrist are trained and treat people using both medication management and psychotherapy.
Myth 5: Your Primary Care Doctor is capable of treating mental illness.
While primary care doctors have medical education and training, they are not equipped to provide an accurate diagnosis or treatment plan. Psychiatry is a specialized field of medicine, not unlike cardiology, in which psychiatrists are fully educated and trained on the various mental illnesses and medications used to treat them.
It’s important to remember that psychiatry is an essential component of medicine. There is no shame in seeking the help of a psychiatrist and I urge you to do so if you feel as though it is needed.
To your mental health,
Scott Shapiro, MD, FAPA