What are the most common
treatments psychiatrists use?
Psychiatrists use a wide range of treatments--including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, and hospitalization--according to the needs of each patient.
Psychotherapy is a systematic treatment method in which, during regularly scheduled meetings, the psychiatrist and patient discuss troubling problems and feelings. The psychiatrist helps patients understand the basis of these problems and find solutions. Depending on the extent of the problem, treatment may take just a few sessions over one or two weeks, or many sessions over several years.
Psychiatrists use many forms of psychotherapy. There are psychotherapies that help patients change behaviors or thought patterns, psychotherapies that help patients explore the effect of past relationships and experiences on present behaviors, psychotherapies that treat troubled couples or families together, and more treatments that are tailored to help solve other problems in specific ways.
Psychoanalysis is an intensive form of individual psychotherapy that requires frequent sessions over several years. Psychiatrists who are also psychoanalysts have had additional years of training in psychoanalysis. They help the patient to recall and examine events, memories, and feelings from the past as a means of helping the patient understand present feelings and behavior and make changes as necessary.
Psychiatrists may also prescribe medications when a thorough evaluation of the patient suggests that medication may correct imbalances in brain chemistry involved in some mental disorders. Most medication is used in combination with psychotherapy. Just like a diabetic patient who needs insulin or a heart patient nitroglycerin, a patient suffering from a severe mental illness may need a specific type of psychiatric medication.