DISEASESMedical specialties


The psychiatrist is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. Psychiatric pathologies result from different factors and can have major consequences.

In this article, discover everything you need to know about the profession of psychiatrist, his role, when and why to consult him.

Psychiatry, what is it?

Psychiatry is the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental illness.

In psychiatry, there are sub-specialties, including:

  • geriatric psychiatry;
  • child psychiatry.

mental illness

A mental illness is a set of disturbances occurring at the level of thoughts, behavior or emotions. It causes, for the individual who suffers from it, personal distress as well as difficulties in social or professional relationships.

When to go to the psychiatrist?

There are many disorders that fall within the scope of psychiatry. Let us mention in particular:

  • the Depression ;
  • attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD);
  • Madness ;
  • schizophrenia (defined as a loss of contact with reality);
  • eating disorders (such as anorexia and bulimia);
  • autism;
  • autism spectrum disorders;
  • bipolar disorders;
  • anxiety disorders;
  • psychotic disorders;
  • personality disorders;
  • attention deficit disorders;
  • or neurocognitive disorders.

People at risk

Some people are more at risk of developing mental illnesses. Here are some recognized risk factors:

  • genetic ;
  • toxic factors (such as cannabis which increases the risk of developing schizophrenia);
  • social factors (poor working conditions, precariousness, etc.);
  • family factors (separation, abuse, etc.)

The role of the psychiatrist

The role of the psychiatrist is to establish a diagnosis based on a complete assessment including:

  • a mental examination;
  • a physical examination;
  • laboratory analyses;
  • medical imaging.

Depending on the diagnosis, the psychiatrist treats the mental illness himself or coordinates the treatment to be given to his patient. It can therefore offer:

  • psychotherapy;
  • medication ;
  • or even different neurostimulation techniques.

Psychiatrists can work in private practice, but also within a multidisciplinary team (nurses, psychologists, social workers, etc.), in hospitals or specialized centres.

How to become a psychiatrist?

Psychiatrist training in France       

To become a psychiatrist, it is necessary to hold a diploma of specialized studies (DES) in psychiatry:

  • the student must first follow, after his baccalaureate, 6 years at the faculty of medicine;
  • at the end of 6? year, the students pass the national classifying tests to gain access to the boarding school. Depending on their ranking, they will be able to choose their specialty and their place of practice. The DES in psychiatry is obtained after 4 years of internship in psychiatry.

Finally, to exercise and bear the title of doctor, the student must also submit a research thesis.

Psychiatrist training in Quebec

After college studies, the student must:

  • follow a doctorate of 1?? cycle in medicine, lasting 4 or 5 years (with or without a preparatory year for medicine for students admitted with a college or university education deemed insufficient in fundamental biological sciences);
  • then specialize by following a residency in psychiatry, for 4 years.
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Prepare for your visit to a psychiatrist

To find a psychiatrist:

  • in Quebec, you can consult the “bottin santé” site;
  • in France, via the website of the National Council of the Order of Physicians.

When the consultation is prescribed by an attending physician, it is covered by Health Insurance (France) or the Régie de l’assurance maladie du Québec.

Difference Between Psychiatrist and Psychologist

The psychiatrist is not a psychologist.

The psychiatrist has medical training, which the psychologist does not have. Unlike the psychologist, the role of the psychiatrist is to work on the medical aspects of the patient’s situation.

What are the risks during the consultation?

Consultation with a psychiatrist does not entail any particular risks for the patient.

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