Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors who have also completed additional studies in psychology. They are licensed to treat physical illnesses and injuries and to perform detoxification of persons with substance use disorders, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.

Psychiatrists can also issue legal prescriptions for controlled medications, such as anti-depressants, sedatives and other medications, for the treatment of mental and physical disorders.

Psychiatric evaluation entails examinations and tests to determine the overall condition of patients, both physical and mental, to establish what type of treatment and medication they may require.

In practice, psychiatrists typically prescribe medication for mental disorders. Although it is preferable to have mental disorders healed with psychological techniques, due to the side-effects and danger of dependency that medication often presents, there are occasions when medication is essential.

With substance use disorders, psychiatrists can also perform safe detoxification of patients and treat physical injuries and illnesses that the patient may have suffered, before patients can start psychological treatment programs.

Psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists in rehabilitation centres compliment each other and often refer patients to and fro between them, depending on the patient’s condition. In some cases, patients can benefit from simultaneous application of medication and psychological treatment programs.

Rehabilitation centres often have standing arrangements with independent psychiatrists to visit them on particular days or to attend to the medical needs of residential patients when required.

The Psychiatric Evaluation Process

A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation can include the following:

  • Examination and tests for physical illness and injury.
  • Signs of physical self-harm and suicidal inclinations.
  • Observation and testing of psychological condition.
  • Establishing level of physical and mental abilities.
  • Family history and history of traumatic events.
  • Current living environment and circumstances.
  • Usage pattern of drugs, alcohol and medication.
  • Gauging the level of withdrawal symptoms and risks.
  • Employment conditions and social interaction.
  • Past and current relationship history and status.
  • Ability of patients to take care of themselves.
  • Medical and psychological treatment history.
Evaluation procedures can include:
  • Personal interview and observation.
  • Interviews with spouses, partners, relatives.
  • Physical examination for illnesses and injuries.
  • Standard psychological screening tests.
  • Observation of physical and emotional symptoms.
  • Laboratory tests, such as blood and urine tests.
  • X-rays and radiological tests, such as brain scans.
Choosing Between Psychiatry and Psychology

Certain conditions necessitate medical intervention, but in most cases psychological therapy is usually the optimal long-term choice, as medications usually only suppress the symptoms and do not heal the cause of disorders. Medication can also cause dependency problems and side effects.