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Doctor On Demand Blog

Therapy and psychiatry are both forms of treatment for mental health conditions, but they differ in their approach and the type of professional providing the treatment.


Therapy, also known as counseling or psychotherapy, involves talking with a trained therapist to address emotional, behavioral, or mental health issues. The therapist will help the patient understand their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, and provide strategies for coping with difficult situations or changing negative patterns.


Psychiatry, on the other hand, is a medical specialty that involves the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed additional training in psychiatry. They can provide therapy, but they also have the ability to prescribe medication (also known as medication management), and can order lab tests or brain imaging studies to help make a diagnosis.

In summary, therapy and psychiatry are both used to treat mental health conditions, but therapy is focused on talk therapy, and psychiatry is focused on diagnosis and medical treatment of mental health conditions.

When to see an Online Therapist

When considering online therapy, there are various situations and conditions where it can prove to be a beneficial choice. Here are some typical reasons and medical conditions that may prompt individuals to seek the guidance of an online therapist:

  • Mild to Moderate Anxiety or Depression: Online therapy can provide a supportive space for individuals dealing with everyday stressors, anxiety, or mild to moderate depression.
  • Relationship Issues: Whether it’s romantic relationships, family dynamics, or friendships, online therapy offers a confidential platform to explore and address relationship challenges.
  • Stress Management: Online therapy is an excellent resource for learning effective stress management techniques, helping individuals cope with the demands of daily life.
  • Life Transitions: From career changes to major life events, online therapy can offer guidance and support during periods of transition and adjustment.
  • Grief and Loss: Coping with loss is a complex process, and online therapy can provide a compassionate space for individuals to navigate their grief.

When to see an Online Psychiatrist

For those dealing with more complex mental health conditions that may require medication management and a deeper understanding of neurobiology, online psychiatry can be a valuable resource. Here are common mental health conditions that may prompt individuals to consult with an online psychiatrist:

  • Major Depressive Disorder (MDD): Online psychiatrists can assess the severity of depressive symptoms and prescribe medications to alleviate them.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Individuals experiencing mood swings and episodes of mania or hypomania may benefit from the comprehensive care provided by online psychiatry.
  • Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders: Online psychiatrists can play a crucial role in the management of severe mental illnesses, providing medication management and therapeutic support.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): For those struggling with intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, online psychiatry can offer tailored treatment plans.
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Online psychiatrists can diagnose ADHD and recommend medications and therapeutic strategies to manage symptoms.
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD): Online psychiatrists can provide specialized care for individuals with BPD, offering a combination of psychotherapy and, when necessary, medication management to address mood instability, impulsive behavior, and difficulties in interpersonal relationships. The comprehensive approach of online psychiatry can assist those with BPD in developing effective coping mechanisms and improving overall emotional well-being.

Which should I try first?

Whether you should try therapy or psychiatry first depends on your individual needs and circumstances. In general, therapy is a good place to start if you are experiencing mild to moderate emotional, behavioral, or mental health issues, and you feel comfortable talking about your thoughts and feelings with a therapist.

If you have a specific diagnosis or a history of mental illness, or if your symptoms are severe or debilitating, then psychiatry may be a more appropriate first step. A psychiatrist can provide a comprehensive evaluation and develop a treatment plan that may include therapy, medication, or other interventions.

Did you know?

Your online therapy visit could be $0 thanks to your employer or insurance. Register to find out your cost before your visit.

Book an appointment

It’s also important to consider access to care and insurance coverage. Some insurance plans require a referral from a primary care physician to see a specialist like a psychiatrist, therapy may be covered under your insurance.

It may be a good idea to consult with your primary care physician to help determine the best course of treatment for you. Sometimes they can provide a referral to a therapist or psychiatrist in your network or close to your home.

There are also many online options for virtual counseling where you can see a therapist or psychiatrist from the convenience of your home. Start your search for a mental health provider online using virtual counseling apps.

How can I find out if my insurance covers mental health?

There are several ways to find out if your insurance covers mental health:

  1. Check your insurance policy: Most insurance policies have a section that outlines what mental health services are covered and any associated costs. This information can usually be found on the insurance company’s website or by calling the customer service number on the back of your insurance card. Telehealth apps such as Doctor On Demand will provide the cost of your visit once you provide your insurance information.
  1. Contact your insurance company: You can call your insurance company’s customer service number and ask about mental health coverage. They will be able to provide you with detailed information about what services are covered and any associated costs.
  1. Consult your employer’s human resources department: If you have insurance through your employer, the human resources department may be able to provide you with information about mental health coverage.
  1. Check with the behavioral health department: Some insurance plans have a separate behavioral health department that handles mental health coverage. This department can provide information about covered services and providers.
  1. Review your insurance plan’s Summary of Benefits and Coverage (SBC) document: A SBC document is a standard document that provides a summary of what a particular insurance plan covers, including mental health coverage.

It’s important to keep in mind that insurance coverage can change, so it’s a good idea to check your coverage periodically. If you do not have medical insurance, you many still use Doctor On Demand for mental health services and virtual counseling.

Doctor On Demand By Included Health

At Doctor On Demand by Included Health, we have licensed therapists and psychiatrists who specialize in anxiety, depression, grief and loss, and more. You may benefit from talking to someone outside of your close family and friends. We’re here when you’re ready, and available 24/7, everyday of the year, including holidays.