Did you know that as many as 18 percent of adults will suffer from anxiety at some point in their lifetimes? Depression is also quite common, affecting an estimated 16 million people, or 6.9 percent of the population.* These emotional issues can have a significant impact on one’s life, and can affect everything from work to relationships to physical health. But when it is time to seek professional help?


Post-traumatic stress disorder can stem from many things. We often hear this term in relation to combat veterans, but many other types of trauma can cause this condition. PTSD can be debilitating in many ways, and can keep people from living happy, fulfilling lives, so it is definitely something to address with a psychiatrist.

Delusions, Hallucinations, Paranoia

If you have experienced—or suspect you have experienced—delusions, hallucinations, or paranoia, you should seek immediate psychiatric care. These things can be caused by some serious conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They also often tend to get worse, rather than better, and should be addressed by a professional right away.


The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult and painful experiences a human can face. If you are having trouble coping with the loss of someone close to you, you may benefit from visiting a psychiatrist.

Body Image Issues

Low self-esteem can be emotionally crippling. While it isn’t uncommon for people to have slight anxiety about their body image, extreme low self-esteem and/or body image issues can be a sign of a deeper problem. Body issues can lead to some very dangerous conditions, such as anorexia and bulimia, and should be treated as a serious concern.

Suicidal Thoughts

If you are seriously considering self-harm, you urgently need professional help. These issues can stem from many treatable conditions, such as mood disorders, anxiety, or other psychiatric disorders.


I know, everyone has the occasional urge to strangle a bad boss or annoying co-worker. However, if you are seriously contemplating hurting other people, or have been violent with others, it’s time for you to look at—and treat—underlying issues. Violent thoughts can be caused by mental illness, anxiety disorders, or other issues. Because this can put others at risk, the urge to commit violence is a huge red flag.


Unsuccessful Counseling

If you have attempted to deal with issues through counseling, you’ve taken a huge step in the right direction, and in moving towards a brighter future. However, sometimes issues that affect one’s mental health stem from acute medical conditions, such as bi-polar disorders, for example, which cannot be completely treated through counseling. In these cases, the goal is to find a complete treatment program, which may include both counseling and medication.

Other Causes to See A Psychiatrist

This is not a complete list of every possible occasion that would warrant a trip to a psychologist. Mood swings, erratic behavior, isolation, and behavioral changes are also red flags that it’s time to seek professional care. Essentially, issues that may require medication or even hospitalization should be treated by psychiatrists.

Psychiatrist Vs. Psychologist

There are significant differences in the roles played by psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor that has had additional, specialized training in mental health. Psychiatrists can diagnose and treat various mental health issues, behavioral problems, and emotional trouble, and can seek medication. A psychologist is not a medical doctor: they have been trained specifically in mental health, but cannot prescribe medication. Therapists are typically psychologists. The role of a psychologist is to help people cope with difficulties, and to help them gain necessary insight and skills to move forward in a positive way. Counselors, on the other hand, may come from a range of backgrounds. Like psychologists, they help people cope with issues, and provide them with the tools to attain better mental and emotional health.

*National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

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