Frequently asked questions
What can I expect at the first consultation?
Seeing a psychiatrist is no different from seeing any other doctor. Just as a doctor may ask details about your cough, a psychiatrist will take a thorough history to understand your problem. Some questions about your childhood and background may be asked as your past experiences shape your perception of the present. A mental state examination and physical examination are also performed. If warranted, blood investigations or psychological tests may be ordered.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
Firstly a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in the study of the brain and mental illness. As doctors, psychiatrists are trained to diagnose medical conditions and prescribe medications. There is a need for physical examination and at times blood investigations too as certain medical conditions can mimic a psychiatric condition. For example, a person with hyperthyroidism can have anxiety-like symptoms. Furthermore recent research show that many of the psychiatric illnesses are due to neurochemical imbalances i.e. a disease of the brain and not just the mind.
If I see a psychiatrist, does it mean I am 'mad'?
Of course NOT!. This is a common misconception that has unfortunately been perpetuated, which creates the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Do I need to be on medication?
Depending on your diagnosis and severity of your condtion, the psychiatrist will discuss the appropriate treatment plan with you. If your condition is mild, psychotherapy and social support may suffice. However if your condition is moderate to severe and has impacted your work or functioning, then you may need a combination of both medication and psychotherapy.