Psychology vs. Psychiatry – What’s the Difference?

The human mind is a complex concept. Understanding the human mind requires knowledge of biology, chemistry, and philosophy. Additionally, two specialized fields study the human mind specifically: psychology and psychiatry.

Since both of these fields study the mind, is there any difference between them? Continue reading to learn more.

What is the Difference Between Psychology and Psychiatry?

In this post, I will compare psychology vs psychiatry. I will use each of these words in example sentences, to give you an idea what they look like in context.

Then, I will show you a memory trick that will help you decide whether psychiatry or psychology more accurately fits with the context of your writing.

When to Use Psychology

psychology versus psychiatryWhat does psychology mean? Psychology is a noun. Psychology is the study of the human mind, including how it works, how it influences behavior, and how groups of minds function differently from individual minds.

For example,

  • I would love to go to happy hour with you, but I have way too much homework for my psychology class.
  • Positive psychology affirms individual and family strengths as a tool for processing dysfunction and trauma.
  • The psychologist said his motivation was not to simply gauge elephant intelligence. –The Washington Post

Psychology is a broad field of study, and many colleges and universities provide psychology programs. It is considered a social science.

The word psychology has Greek origins, combining psyche, meaning breath, life, or soul, and -logia, meaning speech or reason. The plural of psychology is psychologies, but in practice, it is usually referred to as singular. A person who practices psychology is called a psychologist.

When to Use Psychiatry

Definition of psychiatry definition of psychology definitionWhat does psychiatry mean? Psychiatry is also a noun. It refers to the study and treatment of mental illness, emotional disturbance, and abnormal behavior. A person who practices psychiatry is called a psychiatrist.

Psychiatry and psychology have some overlap in that they are both concerned with behavior and the human mind.

Psychiatrists are usually more highly trained than psychologists. Although psychiatry does have some aspects of social science, it is more likely to be categorized as a branch of medicine. Generally, psychiatrists can prescribe medication, but psychologists cannot, although not all psychiatrists write prescriptions.

Psychiatry does not normally take a plural. It originated in French.

Here are some example sentences for the word psychiatry,

  • Psychiatry is a challenging and competitive field, but it pays well.
  • Some psychiatry research shows that regular exercise and a healthy diet are at least as effective as antidepressants for many patients.
  • Chris Streeter, an associate professor of psychiatry and neurology at Boston University, recently completed a small study in which she measured the effect of daily yoga and breathing on people with diagnoses of major depressive disorder. –The New York Times

Trick to Remember the Difference

Define psychiatry and define psychologyIf you are choosing a career on the basis of a higher salary, you should choose psychiatry. Psychology does not pay as well as psychiatry.

Grammatically speaking, let’s go over a trick to remember psychiatry vs. psychology. The difference between these nouns is the field of study they represent.

  • Psychology is the study of the human mind.
  • Psychiatry is the treatment of mental health disorders.

Since psychiatry and treatment each contain the letter T, you can link psychiatry with treatment in your mind.


Is it psychology and psychiatry? Psychology and psychiatry are both fields of study in mental health.

  • What is a psychologist? A psychologist is someone who studies psychology, the study of the human mind.
  • What is a psychiatrist? A psychiatrist is someone who studies psychiatry, the study of mental disorders and their treatment.

There is overlap between these fields, but in general, psychology is a social science, while psychiatry is a branch of medicine.