The fields of psychology and psychiatry are highly integrated. As a former pre-medical psychology student, I should know. At the beginning of this semester, I wanted to go into the field of psychiatry, to become a doctor who prescribes medication to her patients in order to relieve the patients’ symptoms of anxiety and depression, and numerous other disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, about halfway through this semester, I dropped the pre-med option and decided to stick with my degree in psychology, going back to my original plan of becoming a psychologist. I have planned on becoming one since I was a sophomore in high school. Changing my plan didn’t sit well with me after all of the excitement and awe of becoming a psychiatrist had worn off. Despite the $180,000 per year paycheck, I wasn’t my passion or my dream, so I decided to switch back.
In order to become a psychologist, one must attend graduate school after receiving a Bachelor’s degree. Most graduate schools are highly competitive and difficult to get into. Many Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs only accept four to five candidates per year. However, many for-profit professional schools have Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) programs that allow up to two hundred doctoral candidates in per year. Because of this reason, Psy.D. programs are much easier to get into. However, not all Psy.D. programs are this way. In fact, Baylor only accepted six candidates into their Psy.D. program for the 2012-2013 school year (Baylor University, 2014).
Regardless of the similarities between the fields—that is, the mental health fields—there are differences as well. As I stated above, psychiatrists are medical doctors who are able to prescribe medication to their mentally ill patients. Psychologists are not medical doctors, but they receive a doctoral level degree in their field which allows them to assess, diagnose, and treat mental disorders in their patients, of which anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are highly prevalent.
Many people believe that depression is simply a deep sadness—that someone might feel depressed after a loved one passes away or a tragic event happens. While it is entirely possible that someone can fall into a depression after events like these, it is more likely that they are going through a normal grieving and healing process. However, depression is much more than just profound sadness. It is a mood disorder in which people experience a variety of symptoms, including: feelings of emptiness, hopelessness, exhaustion, irritability, frustration, worthlessness, and guilt; a loss of interest in previously pleasurable activities (including sex), anxiety, restlessness, and others (Mayo Clinic Staff, 2014).
Anxiety, too, is often thought of by laypeople as simply feeling nervous. However, there are several forms of anxiety including Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), panic disorders, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Social Anxiety...