What Is a Pdoc?

Types of Mental Health Professionals

psychologist w/ patient
Getty Images/Ed Lallo

Pdoc is short or slang for psychiatrist. Some people may also use pdoc referencing their psychologist. You will frequently see pdoc used in online communities such as forums and chat rooms. You may also hear it used in patient group settings such as hospitals or therapy.

History of the Term

Pdoc is a compressed phrase combining psychiatrist/psychologist and doctor. In conversations patients often want to distinguish between their general practitioner and their mental health practitioner, but psychiatrist is a long word and difficult to spell.

So, in keeping with the instant message and texting trends to rely on abbreviations and acronyms, we have the evolution of a new word – pdoc.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

There are several different kinds of mental health professionals who can take care of your needs. They include:

  • Psychiatrists. These are doctors with a medical degree. They can prescribe your medications, diagnose you with specific mental health disorders or illnesses, as well as treat them, and provide psychotherapy.
  • Psychologists. These are also doctors, but not medical doctors. They specialize in diagnosing mental disorders and providing psychotherapy. They can only prescribe medications in certain states.
  • Psychiatric-mental health nurses. These are registered nurses with special training in mental health. There are a variety of levels, from master's degrees to doctorates, and some types are able to prescribe medications in certain states.
  • Licensed clinical social workers. These social workers have a master's or doctorate degree and may specialize in mental health. They can diagnose and provide therapy, depending on their level of training.
  • Licensed professional counselor. Most states require a master's degree in counseling or psychology, as well as experience in the clinic. They can diagnose and provide psychotherapy, but also do not prescribe medication. 

    Psychotherapies Shown to be Effective in Bipolar Disorder

    Two types of psychotherapy found to be particularly effective for bipolar disorder are family-focused therapy (FFT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

    • Family-focused therapy was developed especially for the treatment of bipolar disorder and includes your family members in the sessions to help improve the relationships between everyone in the family. This helps your family know how best to support you, learn to communicate well with one another and solve problems together. They can even learn how to tell if you're getting into trouble with your illness. This therapy also helps each family member learn how to deal with the stress that comes from either having bipolar disorder or having a loved one with it.
    • Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a combination of cognitive therapy and behavior therapy developed to blend the best of the two together. It helps you learn to deal with your symptoms and to replace your potential negative thinking with more rational thinking. It can also help you learn to tell when you're going to have a mood episode and gives you tools to stick with your treatment plan, which decreases your chances of relapsing.

      Medications for Bipolar Disorder

      If you have bipolar disorder, you will likely be prescribed medication to help control your symptoms. Common medications for bipolar include:

      • Mood stabilizers help control manic and/or hypomanic episodes.
      • Antipsychotics can help if other medications aren't controlling your depressive or manic symptoms.
      • Antidepressants are not typically prescribed alone because they can trigger a manic or hypomanic episode, but used in conjunction with other medications, they can treat depressive symptoms.
      • Anti-anxiety medications are normally used for a short time and may help with sleep and anxiety issues.


      "Mental illness: Mental health providers: Tips on finding one." Mayo Clinic (2014).

      "Psychotherapies." National Institute of Mental Health (2016).

      "Bipolar disorder: Treatment and drugs." Mayo Clinic (2015).

      Continue Reading