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What Does a Psychopharmacologist Do?



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You may have heard the term “psychopharmacologist,” but be unsure as to what a psychopharmacologist does. Here is some information on what a psychopharmacologist is, and what they do. Here is some information on what the profession is.

To understand what a psychopharmacologist is, let’s start with this definition of psychopharmacology from the Women’s Mental Health Consortium: “Psychopharmacology is the branch of psychiatry that deals with the biology, physiology, and genetic basis of mental illness.” All psychopharmacologists are trained in the field of psychiatry, and they are also physicians. That means they are medical doctors, as opposed to psychologists, who may have Ph.Ds but are not medical doctors.

Psychopharmacologists can prescribe medications

While we of course do not understand everything there is to know about mental illness, there have been some advances made in understanding biological reasons for mental health issues.  And psychopharmacologists have had a lot to do with that, and also with treating such issues via medications (thus the “pharma” part of the name.)

Now, any psychiatrist can prescribe medication, because they are medical doctors. But psychopharmacologists specialize in the subject and have a very good understanding of which medications do what. Because of their study and specialization in the issue, they may also know when you should not take a drug, due to other medications, or pre-existing medical conditions that could potentially cause issues with the medications.

Psychopharmacologists can do a variety of things

Psychopharmacologists can have a variety of specialties, just the way that a psychiatrist can. For example, the doctor can be doing clinical research on understanding issues like bipolar disorder, and how medications may be able to treat it. In addition, the psychopharmacologist could also specialize in issues such as eating disorders, schizophrenia, or substance abuse, and the physical causes of such disorders.

In some cases, a patient could see a psychopharmacologist for medications as well as therapy. In other cases, the patient may simply see the doctor for medications, and perhaps see another sort of therapist for therapy.

These days, there are a variety of medications that can help mental illness. But it is important to know how the medications work, and whether they could potentially have side effects. In addition, if you have other health issues, you want to make sure that the medications will not interact negatively with what you are currently taking. That is where a psychopharmacologist can help – to make sure that the medication is right for you, and will work for your issues.