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What is the Difference Between a Psychologist, a Physiologist, and a Psychiatrist? (Explained)

What is the Difference Between a Psychologist, a Physiologist, and a Psychiatrist? (Explained)

If you’re considering mental health support for yourself or for your loved one, then it’s important to know who’s the right person to go to.

Physiologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. These three might confuse you and you must wonder who’s the correct person for your problem. Before deciding, you must know the difference between these three people and know in which field they’re specialized.

In this article, I’ll tell you the difference between a psychologist, a physiologist, and a psychiatrist and who’s the correct person for you.

What Is a Psychologist?

A psychologist is an individual who learns about human behaviors. He studied about emotional and cognitive processes of humans, how people interact with their environments, and how they interact with other people.

Psychologists help people in learning to understand and handle different situations in life and help people to cope with life problems and health issues.

A psychologist is a person who’s professionally trained to help people and to learn healthy ways to handle mental health challenges.

A psychologist study about people who are living with specific conditions, like depression or anxiety, or those who are going through a tough time in life, like grieving the loss of loved ones, and helps them with their loss. They study for years to understand human minds and provide a range of mental health services.

What Does a Psychologist Do?

A psychologist’s job is to diagnose and treats mental disorders, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. They treat some mental diseases and may provide treatment for chronic problems or acute problems.

Psychologists work with an individual, with family, or in a group setting. They usually use psychotherapy or talk therapy to treat their patients.

Psychologists help their patients in handling stressful situations, managing mental illness, and helping them to get rid of addiction. People may go to a psychologist for things such as traumatic experiences, a death in the family, or long-term anxiety.

To become a psychologist, one must earn an undergraduate major, a master’s, and a doctorate in psychology. Plus, most states require a two-year internship. Some who are practicing psychology may earn a Ph.D. or PsyD.

Psychologists Helping Patients
Psychologists talk to their patients and treat their problem

What Is a Physiologist?

A physiologist is someone who studies the human body and how the human body works. Physiologists research how the human body functions, from how molecules behave in cells to how systems of organs work together.

A physiologist analyzes what happens in a healthy body in everyday life and what goes wrong when someone gets sick. Most of the physiologist’s research depends on basic research studies carried out in a laboratory.

Difference physiologists study different things, some physiologists study single proteins or cells, while others might do research on how cells interact to form tissues, organs, and systems within the body.

What Does a Physiologist Do?

A physiologist studies and research whole organisms, or they may study them at the molecular and cellular levels. There are many scientists in this particular field who specialize in specific areas, including movement, photosynthesis, respiration, reproduction, and growth.

Physiologists mostly work in a lab where they conduct basic research on plants and animals. However, in some cases, physiologists do need to conduct research in the field if necessary, traveling to the location of or her subject to evaluate it in its natural habitat.

Many physiologists’ research is based on specific plants or animals, and with the help of recent technological advancements, they now have the ability to manipulate the genetics of their subjects and test under more conditions.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is a specialist in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists usually assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.

People visit a psychiatrist for various reasons, such as panic attacks, frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing “voices.”The issues can be long-term as well, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness that never seem to lift or problems functioning, that disturb everyday life.

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A psychiatrist studies all of your mental and physical symptoms. After observing and studying the situation, they make a diagnosis and work with you to develop a management plan for your treatment and recovery.

A psychiatrist provides you with psychological treatment and prescribes you some medicines to treat your condition. They may do procedures such as rTMS or electroconvulsive therapy as well.

Furthermore, psychiatrists provide urgent care for a sudden mental illness and help you to manage long-term mental health conditions. They may recommend you some lifestyle changes that can help in treating your problem.

Psychiatrists Prescribe Medicines
Psychiatrists usually prescribe medicine to their patients.

How to Differentiate Between a Psychologist, a Physiologist, and a Psychiatrist?

Psychologists, physiologists, and a psychiatrist are three different types of doctors who are specialized in certain fields. All three of them are different from each other and study and research different things. Although all three of them are related to science they’re not the same.

Physiologists study the human body and form the basis of cell function at the ionic and molecular level to the integrated behavior of the whole body and the influence of the external environment. 

Research conducted by a physiologist helps us to understand how the body works in different health conditions and how it adapts to and responds to the challenges of everyday life.

A physiologist helps to determine what goes wrong in disease, facilitating the development of new treatments and guidelines for maintaining human health. The main focus of physiologists is on the behavior of the human body and how do they react to different situations and environments.

On the other hand, psychologists and psychiatrists study about human mind and behaviors. Similar to psychologists, psychiatrists specialize in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of emotional, mental, behavioral, and developmental issues. The main focus of a psychiatrist on chemical imbalances in the brain.

However, psychiatrists are medical doctors, or physicians, with a degree in medicine but this isn’t the case with psychologists. Psychologists are licensed, but not in a specific specialized area. Psychologists need to declare their areas of competency to the regulatory body and are required to practice within the bounds of their competence.

For example, a psychologist who works with children needs to be trained in the area of child psychology and so on. Generally, a psychologist will receive his training in a specific field while studying in the school he or she has graduated from.

Psychologists are usually trained to assess and diagnose problems in thinking, feeling, and behavior as well to help people overcome or manage these problems. They conduct tests to assess and diagnose the problem and then treat their patient accordingly.

On the other hand, psychiatrists are medical doctors who go on to specialize in mental health and mental disorders. They usually prescribe medicines to their patients to manage their mental disorders for which medications are very necessary, for example, schizophrenia and some depression.

Here’s a video to further explain the difference between psychologists, psychiatrists, and even doctors too:

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist vs Doctors: What You Need to Know | MedCircle Series


Physiologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists are three different types of scientists who are specialized in different fields. All three of them work in the medical field and are related to science, but their specialization and study are quite different.

Physiologists researched living things and how they react to certain conditions. A physiologist study about all the living, such as humans, animals, and plants, and how they adapt and react to different situations and environments.

Whereas, psychologists and psychiatrists study human behaviors and treat mental illnesses. Both of them help their patients in treating depression and anxiety. They help people to learn how to handle different life problems and how to cope with their loss and grief.

But their way of treating their patients are different, psychologist treats their patients through therapies and talking. While psychiatrists prescribe medicines to the patients after diagnosing the issue.

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