#MentalHealth: Confused over the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist? Dr Anjali Chhabria has an easy explanation

I am writing this to understand a little more about the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist and when does one decide who to go to? I want to help a family friend who hasn’t stepped out of his house in the last nine months and is posing to be a problem for his family through his erratic behaviour.

A basic difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is the educational degree. A psychiatrist completes his/her MD in Psychiatry and is licensed to prescribe psychiatric medicines, while a psychologist has a Masters degree in Psychology and is trained in psychological assessments and therapy. You can refer your friend to either of these mental health professionals as they will both assess your friend’s emotional well-being and accordingly rope in the other professionally as per need.

I am a business analyst at a stock brokerage firm. I have enjoyed my work and the last 15 years or so have been extremely fruitful, professionally. I now wish to transition into organic farming with a friend. My family isn’t against this idea, but is also not completely in favor of the switch. I understand their reservation as they feel it is risky at this point. But I need this change as I don’t want to regret missing the opportunity years from now. How to resolve this dilemma?

Your dilemma stems from two areas of concern: Your family feeling unsure and you wanting to experience a new change in life. These can co-exist with some ramifications in your approach. Assuring your family a secure future in certain way could be step one, and taking up this new venture gradually can also help you take risks with a little thought attached to it. Explaining why you wish to do this can help them understand you better. Bridge the communication gap between their reservations and your aspirations so that the change is smooth.

Years ago, my daughter was diagnosed with cancer and she made full recovery without needing chemotherapy. She is now planning to pursue higher studies abroad. But, she has been weak owing to the intensive treatment. My wife and I are worried she might not be able to handle herself in a new country. We are often awake at night worrying about her well-being. There hasn’t been a relapse, but we have to be careful. How do we cope with our anxieties so that we don’t hinder her future?

It must have been quite a daunting period for you as a parent to handle your daughter’s condition and help her through it. Your mental agony about something happening to her is quite palpable. However, as you mentioned, you may not be able to protect her from everything without really hindering her progress. Bubble wrapping her isn’t the answer. Rather, make provisions that are easily accessible in the new city for her health-related concerns. Making a plan of action in times of need often helps relieve tension. Engaging faith in her ability to help herself is going to be beneficial to her in the long run.

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