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Health > Under the Rainbow2/28/07 IS Online

Psychologists vs. Psychiatrists

When you got the blues, who you gonna’ call?

By Tasha Tanimoto

It's common to have our ups and downs. But how do we know when it's something more serious, and where do we go for help?

People often turn to psychologists or psychiatrists for professional help, whether to deal with everyday struggles or something more serious, like depression or other mental illnesses. But how do you know which professional to choose?

"If you're looking for strictly a biological approach, then certainly a psychiatrist would be the choice to make," says L. Martin Johnson, a clinical psychologist in Honolulu. "But if you're looking for a more holistic approach as to how you're thinking; how your behavior, biology and history impact your life; and how to make changes -- then I would say a psychologist is probably the best choice."

"A psychiatrist will tend to work with more seriously ill people," says Honolulu psychiatrist Gale Beardsley, "who may have severe depression or a schizophrenic illness, where the use of medications might be a more critical part of the treatment."

But few people seek treatment because of stigmas associated with mental health. However, mental disorders are quite common. An estimated one in four adults in the United States suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder each year.

"People from all walks of life come in for mental health services," says Beardsley. "Basically, the reason to come in is if there's some aspect in your life that you're not fully satisfied with and you're determined, or brave enough, to create a change."

Family, friends, and even your primary care physician can help you find the right doctor for you. And there are also countless resources and information available online.

 
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