Is Biological Psychiatry Better Than Psychology?


I’ve seen therapists many times over the years, but never a psychiatrist. Recently, I heard the term biological psychiatrists, and I wondered is biological psychiatry better than psychology?

Here’s what I learned in looking into it:

Biological psychiatry is better than psychology for conditions and disorders where there is a clear physical or biological connection to the mental health issue being treated.

But that’s just a quick glimpse and one man’s opinion.

So in this article, we’ll explore biological psychiatry, how it differs from my regular psychiatry and psychotherapy. That way you can make an informed decision as to what might be best for you.

Let’s get to it. But to learn more, head on over to BetterHelp.

What is the difference between psychiatry and psychology?

Psychiatry is similar to psychotherapy, except that Psychiatrists have the ability to prescribe drugs whereas Psychologists do not.

So for that reason, some believe psychotherapists work harder to uncover the underlying emotional issues that may be at the root for some people’s issues.

While some psychiatrists also do that, let’s be honest. It’s much easier to write a prescription and bury the symtoms. But while that is definitely sometimes necessary, it’s not always the best long-term solution for the patient.

Which is better psychology or psychiatry?

Psychology is better for patients trying to work through emotional turmoil, relationship issues, or teenage stress. Psychiatrists are better for those with depression, or where there may be a physical component on top of a mental health issue.

Psychiatrists treat mental and medical illnesses.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors with the ability to prescribe medications and schedule medical procedures. Psychologists offer therapy and support but do not have the ability to prescribe medication.

If your condition requires medical treatment they will have to refer you to a specialist. While both deal with mental disorders, the differences between the 2 can be confusing.

What do biological psychiatrists do?

Biological psychiatry is the belief that certain mental health issues have an underlying biological and physical component. Often this is best for the treatment of stress, anxiety, mood disorders, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

But there can be other conditions that warrant a biological psychiatrist too.

Interestingly, biological psychiatry overlaps with neurology in a few keys ways. Neurology usually focuses on brain disorders where the conditions of certain conditions are kind of obvious. Conditions such as:

  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Encephalitis

Biological psychiatry, by comparison, can be useful for those of those too, but also some disorders that are a little less clear or obvious in both the symptoms and the underlying cause.

How is biological psychiatry different from other specialties?

Biological psychiatry looks for a physical manifestation of an issue or disorder, often in the brain. By comparison, other forms of psychiatry rely less on neuroscience and more on observation of the patient, and the patient’s story and background.

So, as we’ve discussed, while general psychiatry, or psychology for that matter, are great for general anxiety, interpersonal issues, relationship issues, or working through trauma or abuse, biological psychiatry is very specific in its applications.

It’s also for a very specific type of patient.

After all, there are MANY different specialties of psychiatrists. The areas where a psychiatrist can specialize include:

  • Child and teen psychiatry
  • Substance abuse
  • Forensic psychiatry
  • Elderly psychiatry
  • Pain management
  • Sleep issues

So when choosing a psychiatrist, while it’s important to find a practitioner that resonates with you and that you feel comfortable with, it’s also important to match their specialty with your needs.

Final thoughts

In this article, we took an in-depth look at the world of biological psychiatry. 

That refers to the concept that all mental disorders have a biological or physical underlying issue in the brain. That differs from more traditional psychotherapy or psychiatry which often sees mental issues as being rooted in emotional or physical trauma.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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