Psychiatry vs Psychology- What’s the difference?

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Know the difference between psychology and psychiatry!

In a world of growing mental illness And lack of awareness, psychiatrists and psychologists are doing more than ever to fight diseases and stigma.

According to stats, roughly 13% of the global population suffers from mental health and substance use disorders!

As mental illness becomes more and more of a worldwide issue, one begs the question: Psychiatry or Psychology? What does the world need and what is more important?

Short answer? Both. Long answer? Still, both, but it isn’t as easy to recognize why and for what these two professions matter.

Let’s find out the difference!

Definitions – What is Psychiatry and Psychology?


According to the dictionary and experts,

Psychology is the study and science of the human mind, its functions and its behaviour.

It involves an understanding of how people feel, act, think and behave. There are many fields that come under Psychology. Some of them include :

Cognitive Psychology –

The scientific study of how people think. This includes things like their Language, memory, attention and other cognitive functions.

Biological Psychology – A branch of Psychology which deals with how the brain functions, using reports to search for abnormalities in it.

Social Psychology-

The Psychology of social attributes of humans. It includes things like group behaviour, individual behaviour and the way people interact with other people.


The study and medical specialty that deals with diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders .

Child psychiatry

– The branch of Psychiatry that deals with treatment of psyche disorders in children below the age of 12.

Biological Psychiatry

– Psychiatry involved in the study and treatment of mental disorders on a physical basis, usually involving the brain, neurology and chemical conditions of the brain.

Addiction Psychiatry

The psychiatry that treats addictions and substance abuse , eg- Alcohol abuse, Drug addictions.

The similarities

As these two fields are intertwined, you’ll come across quite a few similarities. These similarities are often so strong that people end up mistaking one for the other.

What is to be understand is that both fields have experts.

Some of the most common similarities between psychology and psychiatry are

  • They both deal with mental illnesses.
  • They both involve human behavior.
  • Both fight for the awareness, treatment and prevention of mental disorders.
  • Both are studies of the concept of your brain works, how you feel and act.

The differences

The differences are quite distinct if one looks at it from the professional viewpoint.

Psychiatry is more of a biological science. Psychology is more of a social science, dealing with people.

A psychiatrist is trained and has expertise in the biological, chemical and physical functions of how the brain works. They also have a complex understanding of how the brain works in sync with the body.

Psychiatrists are qualified doctors, They’re legally authorized to prescribe medicines.

Severe mental disorders like Schizophrenia, which involves the malfunctioning of the brain’s chemicals like Dopamine and Serotonin, require a qualified doctor’s treatment.

A Psychologist is trained in the behaviour of the mind. They know the social,cognitive and ethical bases of how the mind works.

They are qualified in giving therapy.

Psychotherapy And psychiatry

Psychologists are experts of psychotherapy. This therapy creates a supportive Environment for the patient to talk freely. The environment helps the patient to openly communicate the issues that may be hiding in their mind. The Psychologist then explores the problems, interprets what is happening and then gives solutions.

Psychiatrists provide expertise in the study of dealing with mental disorders through the use of medications. They become doctors through years of rigorous study,training and practice. They diagnose mental illness through physical and lab examinations.

They treat through combinations of psychotherapy and medications. The medicines they prescribe work with chemicals in the brain.

Which is more important?

As mentioned earlier, mental illness is becoming increasingly common. As the problem grows bigger, we consider both to be very important. Just remember, some patients need medicines, while others may need to talk to a Psychologist. It really depends on the patient, their problem and its seriousness.

Psychology is indispensable in its role of helping millions reduce stress, anxiety,depression, and making them productive.

Psychiatry has contributed enormously to the understanding of mental illness,its diagnosis and has shown the world how to treat people with disorders.

These contributions by both sciences are not only to mental patients, but to families, societies and humanity as a whole.

When might a patient need both?

Again, this depends on the illness or problem the person is suffering from.

Most Psychologists and psychiatrists refer patients to each other. When this happens,what you need to do is communicate your problems with one of the two. Odds are, you’ll end up finding what kind of treatment you need and where to find it.

Many mental illnesses, like Schizophrenia, need the help of both. A psychiatrist will help you with the right diagnosis and will tell yoy what medicines you may need. A Psychologist will walk you through talks and psychotherapy that can make you feel better, and compliment your medical prescription with solid advice.

Where to find both psychiatrists and psychologists?

Good psychiatrists and psychologists that work as a team can be found at psychiatry hospitals.

If you are looking for a psychiatrist and psychologists for yourself or your loved ones, the team at Aram Hospitals Trichy will be more than happy to help

Our team comprises leading psychiatric doctors, family counselors and mental health specialists in Trichy.

Reach out to us!

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