What Is Biological Psychiatry?

Biological psychiatry is a type of psychiatric that analyzes mental disorders from chemical, neurological, and physical viewpoints and in which psychiatrists prescribe treatment protocols accordingly. The approach also is known as biopsychiatry.

Biological psychiatry brings various scientific disciplines from several sectors, including biology, genetics, neuroscience, and psychopharmacology, with the overwhelming intent of understanding mental illness as a product of the nervous system’s biological functioning.

Biological psychiatry traces its origins to the Greek physician Hippocrates. During the last 150 years, physical factors have been studied to determine possible hooks into developing antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs.

Therapies, including imipramine and Thorazine, which encouraged biological processes and healthy chemical operation, profoundly impacted the study of the nervous system’s relationship with mental illness. Most research related to it is focused on bipolar disorderschizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease by way of brain imaging, medication management, and diet and exercise plans.

However, some critics say there is no reliable research or testing to determine a biological basis for mental illness.

Ultimately, there’s a simple place to begin when trying to understand biological psychiatry — it’s based on the concept that mental disorders are disorders of the brain itself. They are treated with an interdisciplinary approach with biological, psychological, and social interventions. Thus, with physical science contributing, biological psychiatry also includes neuroscience, psychopharmacology, biochemistry, physiology, and even genetics. Behavioral psychiatry emphasizes the connection between brain functions and behaviors.

Behavioral psychiatry also examines the physical factors that cause mental disorders, and psychotropic medications play a role in biological psychiatry. It draws on sciences, including neuroscience, psychopharmacology, biochemistry, genetics, and physiology, to form theories about the biological bases of behavior and psychopathology.

Some overlap between biological psychiatry and neurology exists. Still, the latter generally focuses on disorders where the nervous system’s visible pathology is present, such as epilepsy, cerebral palsy, encephalitis, neuritis, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

There is some overlap with neuropsychiatry, where behavioral disturbance exists in the context of apparent brain disorder.

Even with more research and awareness about biological processes at play in mental disorders, psychology is still essential for biopsychology. Changing perceptions through therapy will likely continue to be a necessary element of treatment protocols — like taking medications or getting a medical procedure done.

Psychotherapy maintains an important place in treating mental health issues — talking to a therapist can help a patient determine the type of treatment you need.

Biology as a crucial factor in mental illness is not new, but it’s continuing to expand. It has the potential of increasing avenues for helping people who have mental conditions. It has and will almost undoubtedly continue to increase understanding and decrease stigma for anyone struggling to overcome mental illness. In these ways, biological psychiatry is changing the world already.


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