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Can I See a Psychiatrist Without a Referral?

In most cases, a recommendation from your primary care physician is required before seeing a psychiatrist.

What is a Psychiatrist?

Most people wonder if you need a referral note to see a clinician, psychologist, or psychiatrist. In most cases, it is best – and required – that you have a referral to see a psychiatrist or psychologist. However, when you are enrolled at a mental health treatment facility, you may have access to both psychiatrists and psychologists without needing a referral. Additionally, some psychiatrists may talk to you after making an appointment over the phone without a psychiatrist referral. 

Psychiatry is a medical field that involves diagnosing and treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems. One who specializes in this field is known as a psychiatrist. There are many different types of psychiatrists.

Psychologists vs. Psychiatrist

Psychologists and psychiatrists may have overlapping responsibilities, but they come from different disciplines. Psychologists use non-medical support and psychotherapy to help treat mental disorders. In contrast, psychiatrists prescribe medications and receive certifications through their schooling and other training to treat mental health problems in other ways. 1

What Does a Psychiatrist Do?

A referral to a psychiatrist enables you to work hand in hand with the psychiatrist to ensure a holistic recovery. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and use medications on most occasions with the following interventions:

Providing Psychological Treatment

You and a psychiatrist will work together to develop an effective treatment plan uniquely designed for your situation. The recommended psychiatrist treatment may include the following interventions: 2

  • Talk therapy/psychotherapy
  • Medicated assisted treatment (MAT)
  • Light therapy that primarily treats seasonal depression
  • Brain stimulation therapies like vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), deep brain stimulation (DBS), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and others

Prescribing Medications

As mentioned above, a psychiatrist may also prescribe medicated assisted treatment (MAT). Medications for treating mental health conditions from a referral to a psychiatrist may include:

  • Antidepressants
  • Stimulants
  • Antipsychotic medications
  • Sedatives and anxiolytics
  • Hypnotics

  • Mood stabilizers

Conducting Procedures

Psychiatrists ask about your mental and physical symptoms during an appointment. This may be in the form of lab tests, physical examination, psychological evaluation, or all of these tests.

Psychiatrists also use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) to know your mental disorder. The American Psychiatric Association publishes this manual for use in diagnoses by mental health providers. Insurance companies also use this manual to make reimbursements for treatment costs.

What Does a Psychiatrist Treat?

By getting a referral to a psychiatrist, a psychiatrist helps you treat a range of mental health problems; these will be detailed below.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that create feelings of fear and dread in situations you shouldn’t be fearing. While anxiety is sometimes a healthy feeling to have, anxiety disorders paralyze and prevent you from taking action and create other side effects as well. 


Depression is a disorder that creates intense sadness and apathy. You experience little joy even in things you had loved doing before the illness.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are a range of serious illnesses characterized by eating behaviors that negatively impact your emotions, mental health, and normal functioning. Symptoms may include binge-eating, anorexia nervosa, and bulimia nervosa.

How Do I See a Psychiatrist?

In order to see a psychiatrist, you can use the following avenues:

  • Ask your therapist for a psychiatrist referral, or use a walk-in clinic if you don’t have a doctor
  • Check at the community health facility
  • Look for psychiatrists online or in your community

If you are wondering if you need a referral to see a psychiatrist, many psychiatrists do require your primary doctor to write a referral before seeing you. However, others may only require you to schedule a psychiatrist appointment over the phone or official website without a psychiatrist referral note. 

How to Get a Referral to See a Psychiatrist

Looking for a psychiatrist may be challenging, especially when you don’t have a regular doctor. In these cases, you can use a walk-in clinic or ask any doctor for a referral. Sometimes, you may “self-refer” yourself to a mental health program, though this doesn’t always give you access to a psychiatrist.  

Why Are Referrals So Difficult?  

Referrals tend to be hard to get because of the long waiting lists many places have. The difficulty of acquiring the referral may also depend on your general practitioner and how severe your problems are. However, making referrals to help the patient recover, get enough support, and transition well into the next recovery step is crucial. Ask your doctor for advice if you feel like a psychiatrist may be of help to you. 

Psychiatrist Referral

Medications That a Psychiatrist May Prescribe

Psychiatrists use medicated assisted treatment options to treat the above mental health issues. These medicines can include drugs such as: 4

  • Antidepressants: These help relieve depressive symptoms like anxiety, worthlessness, restlessness, and more. They have different classes, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs), and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
  • Stimulants: These may work with antidepressants like SSRIs to help treat depression.
  • Sedatives and Anxiolytics: These can stimulate the central nervous system, relieving stress and anxiety while promoting deep sleep and calm feelings.
  • Mood Stabilizers: These are used for treating depression and bipolar disorder and preventing mood shifts. They sometimes treat people struggling with borderline personality or schizophrenia as well.
  • Antipsychotic Medications: Some commonly prescribed antipsychotic medicines include Stelazine (trifluoperazine), Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Trilafon (perphenazine), and others.

  • Hypnotics: These are ideal for people battling sleep problems to get restful sleep.

Find Out More About Finding Psychiatrists at Anew Treatment Center

Good psychologists and psychiatrists provide a safe space to work through your mental health problems. At Anew Treatment Center, we understand that finding the right psychiatrist may take a considerable time. Do not hesitate to seek psychiatric help, and schedule a free consultation today to get expert advice. 

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