Head | Psychiatry (Medicine Field)


Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study of mental illness in order to prevent, assess, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate people with mental disorders and ensure the autonomy and the individuals adaptation to the conditions of their existence.


A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders. Unlike other mental health professionals, such as psychologists and counsellors, psychiatrists must be medically qualified doctors who have chosen to specialise in psychiatry. This means that they can prescribe medication as well as recommend other forms of treatment. According to different models, psychiatrists action can take place in a hospital (psychiatric hospital) in primary care (psychiatric care) or community (community psychiatry).

Symptoms and Diseases

Psychiatric illnesses can be conceptualised in a number of different ways. The biomedical approach examines signs and symptoms and compares them with diagnostic criteria. Mental illness can be assessed, conversely, through a narrative which tries to incorporate symptoms into a meaningful life history and to frame them as responses to external conditions.

Diagnosis, Treatment and Benefits

Psychiatric diagnoses take place in a wide variety of settings and are performed by many different health professionals. Therefore, the diagnostic procedure may vary greatly based upon these factors. Typically, though, a psychiatric diagnosis utilizes a differential diagnosis procedure where a mental status examination and physical examination is conducted, pathological, psychopathological or psychosocial histories obtained, and sometimes neuroimages or other neurophysiologic measurements are taken, or personality tests or cognitive tests administered. Psychiatrists can therefore counsel patients, prescribe medication, order laboratory tests, order neuroimaging, and conduct physical examinations.

Psychiatric treatments are usually divided into two types: biological and psychotherapeutic. Biologics are those who act at the biochemical level in the patients brain, such as medications and electroconvulsive therapy. The psychotherapy is those who use techniques such as psychotherapy to improve the patients condition. Nevertheless psychotropic drugs are the most common biological treatment used today. ...

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