What kind of doctor should I seek?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I found your website through a Google search. I’m looking for advice about what kind of doctor to see. I don’t know if I should go to a psychiatrist or a psychologist. I have a list of doctors but I’m not sure what is appropriate for my mental behavior.

This is what has been going on: I am a 19 year old female. I go to college in the fall but am home for break. Throughout the past couple of years, I have had panic and anxiety attacks. I got through times where I have like 2 day depression…moments, and then I’m fine. Everyone thought it was because I have lost both of my parents throughout my childhood, however, my entire life I have lied, and gone to great lengths to impress people; to the point where it has become reckless and obsessive.

I also have really bad relationship issues. I get so bored so easily and will cut off all ties, and I am also currently sexually confused. On top of all of this, I party a lot as an outlet. When this all hit me that this isn’t average behavior, I called my estranged sister, because my behavior had mirrored hers over the years. I asked if she ever sought help and she said that when she was 15 (she is now 30) she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but I want to find some way to channel this wild and consuming behavior because until recently, I thought it was okay to live in total chaos, disorganization, and frustration, but in the recent weeks, I’m noticing it’s not ok, and I’m not sure what kind of doctor to go see, and my friends and family have their opinions, but I’d like to hear it from someone who has no connection with me. Thank you for reading and I hope to hear back.

A. I am glad that you have come to your own realization that it is not healthy for you to live in total chaos. I want to congratulate you on this point because it takes incredible insight to realize that the way you have been living is hurting you. Because we generally live one way most of our lives it is difficult to be objective about ourselves. The way we live seems “normal” even if it is chaotic. Chaotic or not, it is the world we have come to know and it is for this reason that objectivity regarding ourselves is so difficult. It not only takes insight to realize that you have a problem but great fortitude to put into motion a strategy for getting help for that problem. What I also like about your letter is that you have a desire to channel your negative energy into something positive. With good help and continued dedication to changing your life, it is very plausible that you can live a much healthier and chaos-free life.

I do agree with others that there is something going on with you. I cannot tell you exactly what is wrong because I know so little about you. I cannot tell you if you have borderline personality disorder. My advice is to find a therapist, and this could be a licensed clinical social worker or a psychologist, with many years of experience. You should call around first and talk with as many therapists over the phone as you can and see which one you connect with. Ask them if they treat people who have similar problems, ask how much experience they have, etc. You could also try a psychiatrist for medication but psychiatrists generally do not engage in talk therapy and usually only prescribe medication. I would suggest that you see a therapist first and a psychiatrist later if your therapist thinks it is necessary. I wish you luck.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Aug 2007

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2007). What kind of doctor should I seek?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/08/20/what-kind-of-doctor-should-i-seek/