While it may seem an ignorant question, understanding psychiatry is more complicated than one might think. Yes, it’s the practice of helping individuals define, understand, and categorize mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Still, these same healthcare professionals also determine the best treatments for individuals experiencing mental health issues.
In simple terms, “psychiatry” is the medical specialty that expands and experiences the human brain’s complexity challenges. Still, they also research a broad spectrum of mental conditions, correlated treatment options, and contribute to the new approaches and fields of study.
What Does A Psychiatrist Do?
Psychiatrists are mental health professionals. Mental disorders cover many categories, including:
- Mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder;
- Anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, among others;
- Personality disorders;
- Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia; and
- Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
Psychiatry is always changing as approaches to care, and medication responses evolve. In the not-too-distant past, mental health conditions and those afflicted with them often experienced a stigma or public disgrace. This is becoming less and less true.
Psychiatrists should not be confused with psychologists. Psychiatrists require more schooling. They are medical doctors, not just providers with a master’s or a doctorate. They also can prescribe medication.
Treatment of patients
Psychiatrists must address several questions about their patients’ struggles, such as:
- The best and most helpful ways to classify mental disorders
- Determining what is “normal”?
- How treatments designed for categories of people are tailored to individuals
Current medical diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions rely on tools ranging from neuroimaging to transcranial stimulation. Psychotropic medications remain the most commonly sought and prescribed treatments, but the psychiatric landscape increasingly includes more than drugs and pharmacotherapy.