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Primary care physicians such as family doctors and pediatricians often prescribe psychiatric medications. Because they deal with a wide variety of health concerns, they encounter and address mental health problems on a regular basis.

While your primary care physician deals with numerous (mostly physical) health conditions, psychiatrists concentrate specifically on the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. Your family doctor may provide a good first line of treatment for some mental health issues, but some conditions, such as bipolar disorder or hard-to-treat depression, are complicated enough to require the specialized care of a psychiatrist.

Children and teens with mental health conditions often have different signs and symptoms than adults with the same conditions, and they may respond differently to certain medications than adults. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have even more specialized training in the psychiatric care of your children.

Besides doctors, a number of other health care professionals are also able to prescribe psychiatric medications for less complicated situations. These professionals include physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and, depending on state law, some other advanced-practice nurses. Additionally, a few states allow psychologists with special training to prescribe a limited number of psychiatric medications.

Editor’s note: This section was written by Ricardo Whyte, MD. © 2018 Ricardo Whyte. All rights reserved. Used under license.

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