People dealing with mental health problems like depression or anxiety disorder are suggested to consult a psychiatrist and/or psychologist. But this does not imply that psychologists and psychiatrist are the experts who provide similar medical service. So how do you figure out that you need to visit a psychologist or a psychiatrist for catering to a mental health concern? While the two fields of science may have similarities, they do have significant differences which set them apart from each other.
Psychologists and psychiatrists differ in their approach towards mental health problems
What are the similarities in a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists and psychologists are different types of doctor who study ways to deal with mental health issues. They are both there to talk people through their problems and help them when they are finding difficulty in dealing with their emotions. They try to help you manage struggles of everyday life.
Difference between psychologist and psychiatrist
While psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) who graduate from a medical school and have residency in assessment and treatment of mental health disorders, psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology and study the mind and behaviour.
Psychologists are not medical doctors. They can have a PhD in philosophy or PsyD in clinical or counselling psychology. They are also trained in giving psychological tests like IQ and personality tests, unlike psychiatrists.
Psychiatrists have the authority of prescribing medications to people dealing with mental health problems. This is because of their medical training. However, the same is not the case with psychologists. Only a psychologist who has taken a course in psychopharmacology can prescribe limited number of psychiatric medications.
How psychologists and psychiatrists are different in their approach
Psychologists and psychiatrists are both trained for practicing psychotherapy, which refers to talking to patients about their problems in life. But their background training makes them both approach to mental health problems in different ways.
For instance, a psychologist will track sleep patterns of a person who is depressed and cannot get out bed. S/he will also track eating patterns and negative thoughts that might be causing such a behavioural activation.
Both psychology and psychiatry backed by complete trust and confidentiality
Psychiatrists, on the other hand, will have a stronger sense of biology and neurochemistry. Before calling someone “depressed”, they will first check if a person is suffering from any other medical condition like vitamin deficiency of thyroid problem. It is only after doing the mental diagnosis that a psychiatrist will prescribe medicines.
Whom should you call
Serious mental health problems such as major depression, schizophrenia or a bipolar disorder should be checked with a psychiatrist. This is because these conditions have severe physical symptoms and it might get difficult for the patient to take basic care of himself/herself. Psychiatrists have better formal training and treatment options for patients with such mental illness, as compared to psychologists.
In the meantime, there are many patients who do not prefer to take medications. Their mental health conditions are less severe and they usually are afraid of getting addicted to medicines. They are also apprehensive about the medicines would react on their body chemistry. If you feel the same, you should probably visit a psychologist.
Nonetheless, a clinically depressed person can benefit from medication (psychiatrist) and someone dealing with phobia can find relief by taking some therapy (psychologist). A psychologist dealing with a person – with more severe symptoms such as suicidal tendencies or highly irrational thoughts – will usually ask him/her to consult a psychiatrist for better diagnosis and treatment through medicines.
Do not shy away from seeking help from psychologist or psychiatrist when needed
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether you are visiting a psychiatrist or a psychology. If you are facing problems in dealing with life and are going through an emotional crisis, you must seek help. Both psychology and psychiatry are built around strong relationships which are backed by complete trust and confidentiality. After you seek primary level help from visiting a doctor, the secondary level of help will be provided to you by the doctor.
But no matter what, do not continue hiding your discomfort and pain because of a mental illness for too long.
Mental illness is as serious as physical illness and must be taken seriously under all circumstances. We are living in times when celebrities like Deepika Padukone, Ellen DeGenres, Cara Delevingne and many more have come out in the open and spoken about depression. If you feel you are experiencing prolonged sadness or any other kind of emotional crisis, do visit a psychologist or psychiatrist at the earliest.
Beware of the silent killer
By Dr Sudhir Koganti
One may wonder what all this fuss about high blood pressure is. Hypertension causes many cardiovascular diseases that include stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and dementia, thus putting a huge burden on healthcare globally due to morbidity, mortality and associated costs. Last but not least, the public need to be aware of the correct treatment for high blood pressure.
Every year, the World Hypertension Day is celebrated on the 17th of May to increase awareness about this silent killer among general public. International Society of Hypertension along with World Hypertension League has designated the month of May as “May Measurement Month.”
The aim of this initiative is to screen as many people as possible that are over the age of 18 years for suspected hypertension. This strategy would greatly enhance in identifying silent or undiagnosed hypertensives so that they can be targeted with guideline directed lifestyle, dietary advice and treatment.
Awareness on the lower threshold of blood pressure reading required to label an individual as hypertensive is also required. American Heart Association guidelines released in 2017 clearly stipulate that a blood pressure reading of over 130/80 is now considered as stage 1 hypertension. However, the job of a cardiologist doesn’t stop with diagnosis but actually starts there. Once someone is labelled as hypertensive, it needs to be established if it is true or an entity called white coat hypertension.
Furthermore, investigations may have to be carried out to see if hypertension is secondary to a cause. Once diagnosed, a decision needs to be taken if lifestyle modification can be adopted or treatment needs to be initiated early.
Lifestyle modifications include six key steps and they are:
• Get expert advice from your doctor to help you understand your results;
• Lower salt/sodium to prevent excess fluid in the blood, which strains blood vessels;
• Eat more fruits and veggies – particularly potassium-rich ones – to balance out sodium in the blood;
• Exercise – it makes the heart stronger, putting less strain on blood vessels;
• Quit smoking – constituents of tobacco smoke damages blood vessel linings; and
• Monitor your blood pressure at home
As per studies and data, thousands of people are on wrong treatment for hypertension with a class of drugs called Betablockers (Atenolol, Metoprolol etc) being prescribed as first line or second line agent.
Betablockers have been phased out as first line or second line drugs to treat hypertension a while ago, unless there is concomitant coronary artery disease or heart failure. In fact, the same holds for other concomitant conditions too such as kidney disease, stroke etc.
Essentially, the key message is one prescription does not fit all and it need to be tailored to the individual in a dedicated specialist clinic. People need to actively undergo blood pressure screening of themselves.
They need to nudge their relatives and friends in the month of May and seek expert advice on how to manage and monitor this silent killer over the long run to lead an active and healthy life. (Writer is Consultant Cardiologist, Citizens Hospitals, Nallagandla, Serilingampally)
Dr Sudhir Koganti
Jawless fish may hold key to effective brain cancer treatment
A chemical found in jawless parasitic fish can be used to deliver anti-cancer drugs directly to brain tumours, as well as lead to more effective treatments for trauma and stroke, a study has found.
The research, published in the journal Science Advances, found that molecules from the immune system of the parasitic sea lamprey may also be combined with a wide array of other therapies, offering hope to treat disorders like multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease or even traumatic injuries.
“We believe it could be applied as a platform technology across multiple conditions,” said Eric Shusta, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the US.
When injected into the bloodstream, many drugs cannot reach targets in the brain as the blood-brain barrier prevents large molecules from leaving the blood vessels in the brain, researchers said.
In conditions such as brain cancer, stroke, trauma and multiple sclerosis, however, the barrier becomes leaky in and around the disease locations, researchers said.
The study found that leaky barrier offers a unique point of entry, allowing molecules to access the brain and deliver drugs precisely on target.
“Molecules like this normally couldn’t ferry cargo into the brain, but anywhere there’s a blood-brain barrier disruption, they can deliver drugs right to the site of pathology,” Shusta said in a statement.
Researchers said that the technology takes advantage of the fact that many diseases disrupt body’s natural defense mechanism – the blood-brain barrier, which lines the blood vessels of the central nervous system, protecting the brain from circulating toxins or pathogens.
They also linked the molecules to a chemotherapy called doxorubicin. The treatment prolonged survival in mouse models of glioblastoma, an incurable cancer.
“This could be a way to hold therapies in place that don’t otherwise accumulate well in the brain so they can be more effective,” said Ben Umlauf from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“There are several disease processes that disrupt the blood-brain barrier and we could conceive of delivering a variety of different therapies with these molecules,” said John Kuo from the University of Texas in the US.
Life expectancy linked to a person’s walking speed
People who walk slowly have a lower life expectancy than those who walk fast, a recent study has claimed. According to the study published in the Journal of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, those with a habitually fast walking pace have a long life expectancy across all levels of weight status – from underweight to morbidly obese.
Underweight individuals with a slow walking pace had the lowest life expectancy (an average of 64.8 years for men, 72.4 years for women). The same pattern of results was found for waist circumference measurements.
Professor Tom Yates, the lead author of the study, said, “Our findings could help clarify the relative importance of physical fitness compared to body weight on the life expectancy of individuals. In other words, the findings suggest that perhaps physical fitness is a better indicator of life expectancy than body mass index (BMI) and that encouraging the population to engage in brisk walking may add years to their lives.”
Dr Francesco Zaccardi, co-author of the study, said, “Studies published so far have mainly shown the impact of body weight and physical fitness on mortality in terms of relative risk, for example, a 20 per cent relative increase of risk of death for every 5 kilograms per metres squared increase, compared to a reference value of a BMI of 25 kilograms per metres squared (the threshold BMI between normal weight and overweight).”
Last year, Professor Yates and his team showed that middle-aged people who reported that they are slow walkers were at higher risk of heart-related disease compared to the general population.