When Is It Necessary To See A Psychiatrist?

Published: September 09, 2013
Dear When Is It Necessary To See A Psychiatrist?,

When is it necessary to seek a diagnosis from a psychiatrist? Right now I go to a psychologist for anxiety and eating problems, I'm 18 and although these issues are obvious, they have never been diagnosed. Along with the anxiety and eating, there may be other issues that have not been diagnosed. My mental health has really affected my life lately. It's holding me back and changing me into a person I never wanted to be. My psychologist has not suggested I need a psychiatric evaluation, but I think it would be helpful for me in the recovery process.

Dear When Is It Necessary To See A Psychiatrist?,

There are a couple of reasons a person might schedule a consultation with a psychiatrist:

  • People who are experiencing any kind of mental health issues and are looking for an evaluation and diagnosis can meet with a psychiatrist for that purpose. Keep in mind that therapists, such as clinical social workers and clinical psychologists, are also able to assess and diagnose mental health illnesses.
  • People who are interested in finding out whether they could benefit from taking psychotropic medications would schedule with a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist would make a diagnosis, make recommendations about medications, and then monitor the person while they are taking any psychotropic medications.

Given that you are currently in therapy, the psychologist you are meeting should absolutely be able to perform an evaluation of the presenting problems and make a formal diagnosis. The psychologist you are meeting with should also be able to make recommendations on the most effective treatment plan for you. The treatment plan might include individual therapy once or twice a week, family therapy, and perhaps a consultation with a psychiatrist to see if you could benefit from psychotropic medications.

If you feel that your current treatment plan is not adequately addressing your symptoms, then TeenHealthFX recommends you discuss this with the psychologist you are meeting with. You may want to consider meeting more often for outpatient therapy sessions. You might also ask the psychologist’s opinion about whether he/she thinks you might benefit from psychotropic medications and should consider meeting with a psychiatrist. If your family has not been involved in your treatment, you might also discuss with your psychologist whether or not it would be beneficial for you and your family to find a reputable family therapist who can meet with all of you in addition to the individual sessions you have with your psychologist.

FX wants you to remember that if you ever have concerns about how you are responding to therapy, or whether there is anything else you could be doing to address your symptoms, to raise these questions and concerns with your therapist. For some people meeting with a therapist is sufficient to address the presenting problems. Others need to meet with a therapist for therapy sessions and a psychiatrist for medication management purposes. You and your therapist will be able to figure out together what will be best for you.