Four Stigmatized Words that Freak People Out: Word 4

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014 Nancy Virden

photo-24736910-close-up-of-tables-spilling-out-of-a-bottle_Fear of this word drives people to silence (a trend with these words that freak people out!).

People who do not want to discuss this word might be the belligerent types. “I don’t need a _________! I’m not going to get sucked into that baloney.”

Perhaps the one who will not consider this word is misinformed. “_________ just shove drugs at you.”

Or maybe the word is a joke.  “I’m not going to have my head shrunk.”

Psychiatrist. An unfortunate stigma related to the word psychiatrist, is a belief that when it is ‘only’ our thinking or emotions which trouble us, there is no need for a medical diagnosis or treatment. Even if we are open to psychiatric medications, we may not see the need for a specialist.  “I’ll just go to my General Practitioner. He/she knows me. They can prescribe something.”

Most GPs these days will send a patient with a skin condition to a dermatologist. If someone walks into an internist’s office with signs of heart issues, that internist will refer the case to a cardiologist. Why then, do we freak out over the word psychiatrist? They are brain science specialists.

One broad misunderstanding is that a psychiatrist is a therapist.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors who are generally untrained or unpracticed in therapy techniques. Does it seem that “all” they do is “shove” medications at patients? Perhaps that negative viewpoint comes from the false premise that psychiatrists are supposed to cover the entire spectrum of mental health care.

Visits to a psychiatrist are commonly 15-30 minutes long. All that occurs in that time is a brief discussion of how the patient is feeling followed by a suggested treatment plan. My psychiatrist checks if my medications and dosages are working, reminds me to talk to my therapist, and writes out prescriptions. 

Of course she does. She’s a Medical Doctor, an  M.D., a specialist in the medicinal treatment of mental illness. 

She’s not scary at all.


NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help can be yours.

*picture from qualitystockphotos


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