10 Common Myths About Psychiatry

10 Common Myths About Psychiatry

The world of Psychiatry is often a mix of skepticism and praise. For those who have never seen a Psychiatrist, or mental illness has never touched their inner circles, the methodology, science, and effectiveness of Psychiatry can often be hard to understand. Today, we will discuss ten myths we have heard, and how we debunk those mistruths here at Cognitive Psychiatry.

1. Mental Illness Diagnoses Are Labels For Normal Behavior

We have been asked quite often over the years, where Psychiatrists draw the line between normal behavior and mental illness. Where someone who is a little shy, becomes a case of anxiety, or where someone who gets sad, has depression. Much like a benign tumor, vs. cancer, we determine a diagnosis when the behavior becomes debilitating and the patient can no longer go about their daily lives as they have in the past.

2. Psychiatrists Will Force Medication On You

Every patient is different, as are his or her needs. A good Psychiatrist will never force medications on their patient. Patients should have a treatment that is completely unique to them, and a practiced Psychiatrist will work with them to find that exact treatment they need.

3. Psychiatry Only Involves ‘Crazy’ People

Actually, the majority of patients we see have an actual illness or imbalance (much like diabetes), that with the proper treatment, the imbalance is corrected and they are no longer ill. Another large portion of patients for Psychiatrists are people who have a mental illness as a side effect to another condition, like Asperger’s causing a diagnosis of anxiety. While we can not treat the Asperger’s, we can work with the patient to manage and treat their anxiety.

4. Psychiatrists Don’t Offer ‘Talk Therapy’

‘Talk Therapy’ can arguably be one of the most effective treatments used by Psychiatrists. In fact, many Psychiatrists, our staff included, use this method of treatment – sometimes solely, and other times in conjunction with other forms of therapy and treatment.

5. The Mentally Ill Will Never Recover

As we discussed in our 3rd myth, many patients that see a Psychiatrist actually have an illness or imbalance that is causing a mental discrepancy. Once this imbalance is corrected, they are, in fact, cured of their mental illness. However, there are still some cases that involve life-long treatment and monitoring.

6. Mental Illnesses Are Purely Biological

While there are some mental illnesses that have a high chance of reoccurring in your gene pool, like schizophrenia, not all mental illnesses are spurred by genetics. Environment, trauma, and other illnesses are just a few of the many factors that can bring forth mental illness in an individual.

7. Asking For Help Means You Are ‘Crazy’ or ‘Weak’

We want to be abundantly clear here to begin; you are never weak or crazy by acknowledging that you can’t go through a mental illness or debilitating issue, alone. Asking for help is actually a very brave and empowering thing because you are acknowledging your own human, natural limitations (which we all have) and are looking for ways to better cope with them.

8. Mental Illness Can Be Treated By A Preferred Medical Doctor

We have actually gone over this topic in more depth in a past blog, and it is true, a PMD has vast knowledge and treatment options for the body. However, they do not have the extensive years of training, nor the background in the ‘science’ of prescribing medications to be able to properly help a patient with a mental illness.

9. Mental Illness is Uncommon

This is one myth we wish were true. However, one in every five Americans will be diagnosed or touched by a mental illness in their lifetimes, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

10. Psychiatric Drugs Will Change Your Personality

Any medication out there can cause negative effects for a patient if taken too long or given the wrong dosage. The way we see it, is this; if someone with depression overcomes it through their medication, their personality will be changed, yes – they will be free from negative thoughts, anti-social behavior, and feelings of defeat, which is a definite change in personality – a positive change. The same can be said for an illness like Schizophrenia, with the right treatment plan, their minds will become less consumed by hallucinations, delusions, and irrational anxieties – another healthy and positive personality change.


Do you have a question about the art and practice of Psychiatry that was perhaps not mentioned today? Contact our family at Cognitive Psychiatry today! We would love to help you with any questions or concerns you might have.

Live Mentally Healthy,
Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill

Need Patient Portal Help?
Need help navigating through Athena, our new patient portal? Please utilize our Patient Portal Instructions page for step-to-step instruction and demo tools!