The cancer care team: Psychiatrist

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A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can help you manage your mental health. Find out what a psychiatrist can do for you and why it is important to manage your mental health.

Key points

  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental health, including mood, behaviour and the way you think.
  • Cancer can affect the way you think, how you feel, behave and how you sense the world around you.
  • A psychiatrist can recommend medications and treatments that help you feel better and live better, which can make it easier to handle treatment.
  • It may be difficult or uncomfortable for some people to talk about their mental health but it is an important part of your treatment that can help you feel better.

What is a psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a field of health care that is devoted to mental health. Mental health includes your mood, your behaviour, the way you think and the way you sense the world around you.

Who practices psychiatry?

Doctors who specialize in psychiatry are called psychiatrists. Psychiatrists are part of the mental health team, which also includes mental health nurses, psychologists, social workers and many others. The mental health team works with people who have mental health challenges that interfere with their ability to live well.

What can psychiatry do for me?

Cancer is like a big, unwelcome intruder that drops into your life. It can change how you feel, behave, think and sometimes even how you sense the world around you. In other words, cancer can affect your mental health! This is where psychiatry can help.

Psychiatrists have special knowledge of treatments that can help improve mental health. They can recommend medications and other techniques that can help you feel better and live better. Being mentally healthy makes it easier to handle treatment and get back to living your life.

It feels weird to talk about mental health

Many people are reluctant to talk about mental health challenges. Some people feel ashamed or weak, or that the mental health issues they are facing are their fault. This is not true. We know from studying the brain that mental health challenges are a kind of illness. Just like it’s not your fault that you have cancer, it’s not your fault if you struggle with your mental health. And just like there is treatment for cancer, there is treatment available for mental health challenges.

For more information about cancer and mental health, check out the sections on depression and anxiety. These are two of the more common mental health conditions in teens with cancer.​

Last updated: September 3rd 2019