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The Disadvantages of Being a Psychiatrist

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A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in helping people with a variety of issues, including emotional problems, chemical imbalances and personality disorders. A person who chooses a career in psychiatry can find that they can be financially rewarded as well as personally gratified. However, there are some possible disadvantages to this career as well. Dealing with people on a full-time basis who are afflicted with a variety of mental illnesses can take an emotional and physical toll on the psychiatrist.

Chronic, Incurable Illnesses

The nature of the illnesses psychiatrists are forced to confront can be difficult to deal with. In some cases there are treatments but no actual cure. For example, a person who has a chronic condition such as an addiction to drugs or alcohol can face a lifelong battle with little or nor permanent solution. Another condition that can be discouraging is a person who has a personality disorder in where they are treated with medications, yet the medicine simply placates them as a band-aid does a wound, but never really cures them. A person with bi-polar disorder can be very difficult to treat on a long-term basis as well.

Diagnostic Difficulties

The job description of a psychiatrist is very broad, requiring them to assist people with a vast array of problems. Many such problems are difficult to identify and treat because sometimes there are no standardized testing methods in which to use for a clear-cut diagnosis. There are some tests available within the realm of psychiatry. However, with many behaviors and conditions there are relatively few diagnostic tests compared to other medical problems of a more outward physical nature.

Laws of Confidentiality

Psychiatrists often suffer from a sense of isolation. Federal laws prohibit doctors, including psychiatrists, from revealing or discussing anything specific that is discussed within the boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship. This can become an emotional burden on the psychiatrist. This can make it frustrating because the doctor cannot go home at night and talk about the details of the cases he is working on with other family members or friends. Psychiatrists may not even discuss the specifics of their cases with their colleagues, without first getting written permission from the patient.

Time, Money and Prejudice

Although a psychiatrist is a doctor, and although she generally spends more time with her patients than other doctors, she generally earns less than other medical doctors. Additionally, insurance companies put limits on the amount of psychiatric care that a person is allowed. Sadly, these limits often prevent the patients from receiving all of the psychiatric treatment that they truly need.

In addition, psychiatric illnesses are still often looked down upon, incorrectly, as some sort of personal weakness and not a true medical problem. Even though psychiatry has become an increasingly researched field, there remain some prejudices, which affect the care that people who may really need it can get.


Stewart Smith is a technical professional with more than a decade of mainframe programming and an additional decade of technical writing, as well as writing and publishing articles on a variety of technical topics. He has written articles for an employee newsletter for a large corporation he worked for over a period of five years, and has published work on various websites.

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