Adult psychiatrists care for the mental well-being of patients over the age of 18, treating conditions like depression or anxiety; treatment may include therapy or counseling techniques.

Video Overview of Psychiatry

About Adult Psychiatry

Adult psychiatrists are doctors who have been trained to provide care for the mental wellness of adult patients. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately one out of every four adults in the United States are affected by some type of mental disorder, many of which seek the care of an adult psychiatrist. Conditions treated by adult psychiatrists include ADD & ADHD, anger problems, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorders, among others.

Adult psychiatrists are trained to recognize and diagnose mental illness in adults through clinical evaluation. When diagnosing patients, psychiatrists rely upon their education and training to assess all aspects of a patient’s life, as many different factors can contribute to mental illness. This includes an evaluation of not only the patient’s physical symptoms, but an assessment of contributing social factors such as work environment or family life.

After diagnosing a patient with a mental illness, adult psychiatrists will discuss and explain a range of potential treatment options. Depending upon the diagnosis, the psychiatrist may employ treatment techniques such as psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and the prescription of medications to manage mental illness. Additionally, adult psychiatrists may provide care as part of a multidisciplinary team, working in conjunction with the patient’s other providers.

Adult Psychiatry Education & Training

The training and education of an adult psychiatrist begins with the completion of a four year bachelor’s degree, usually focused on life, social or health sciences. After being awarded an undergraduate degree, the completion of an MD or DO degree from an accredited medical school is required. During medical school, the student will be trained in all aspects of general medicine. Generally, the first two years of medical school will focus on classroom learning, while the final two years are usually spent completing clinical rotations under the guidance of more experienced doctors.

After graduating from medical school, the physician must enter into a residency program, which may be focused on general psychiatry or adult psychiatry. During this time, the physician is known as a “resident,” and will provide care in a clinic or hospital setting under the guidance of experienced physicians. As a resident, the physician will likely spend the first year completing rotations in general medical fields (such as family medicine).

After completing general medicine rotations, the physician will likely spend some time in a neurology rotation before beginning to focus on psychiatric care. During this time, the physician will spend approximately three years diagnosing and treating psychiatric patients under the supervision of experienced psychiatrists. Throughout clinical psychiatric rotations, the physician will become proficient in all of the skills necessary to treat patients suffering from mental illness.