Psychiatry is a specific branch of medicine that focuses on diagnosing mental illness, substance abuse issues as well as behavioral disorders. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with an M.D. or a D.O. They can prescribe psychiatric medications for mental health problems and provide clients with medication management and sometimes therapy as well. Here you will find articles about psychiatry works, what it’s used to treat, and the ways it can help people with mental health issues. We will show you some reasons to consider seeing a psychiatrist and how it might benefit you. You’ll read about how psychiatrists support people on their journey to mental wellness.
Medically Reviewed By: Aaron Horn, LMFT, MA
Psychiatry is a field that is dedicated to diagnosing and preventing mental illnesses. A psychiatrist examines a patient and conducts a series of evaluations to determine what a person’s condition is. They may use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD). The DSM-V was published in 2013 and included new diagnoses. The word psyche is derived from the ancient Greek word for “soul.” A German physician Johann Christian Reil created the term "psychiatry." He coined the word in 1808. The word means 'medical treatment of the soul.' The word psych means "soul" in Ancient Greek (psykhē "soul";), iatry means "medical treatment,” and comes from the Greek word iātrikos "medical treatment” or “healing.”
A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in treating people with mental health issues or disorders. Psychiatry is a branch of medicine where providers use evidence-based research to solve problems with human behavior. Those who specialize in psychiatry need to be experienced with social and biological sciences. Psychiatry can treat mental illnesses, learning disabilities, as well as personality disorders. It’s not just about mental illness, but a variety of ailments that affect the mind. The DSM has evolved over many years. There have been numerous editions of the book, and new disorders have been added. As psychiatrists continue to research human behavior, there are new discoveries made and new diagnoses added to the DSM.
There are different psychiatric approaches when treating a patient. The biomedical model focuses on helping a person get relief from their illness or condition. It focuses on a specific problem and solves it using biological solutions. Medicine is something that the model uses to help people find relief. The biomedical model helps people “feel better” from their condition. It strives to help the person become more healthy. The biomedical model focuses on the pathology, biochemistry, and physiology of a disorder or illness. However, this model doesn’t factor into account social and emotional issues.
George L. Engel introduced the biopsychosocial model of psychiatry. The model takes into account how illness develops over time. It doesn’t just focus on the here and now, and what the person is suffering at the moment. There are many factors including genetics and biochemistry. There are also psychological factors at play, which include a person’s mood, personality, and their behavior. The social issues include socio-economics, cultural, and family relations. The biopsychosocial model of psychiatry looks at a person holistically, considering their genetics, cultural background, and emotional health. It’s less restrictive than the biomedical model, which only recognizes a person’s biology.
In 2009, Niall Mclaren published a book called Humanizing Psychiatry: The Biocognitive Model. In the book, he asserts that modern psychiatrists are reliant upon solving human being’s problems with drugs when that’s not necessarily the answer. Dr. McLaren attacks stigma head on and argues for the fair treatment of people living with mental illness. Drugs are not necessarily the answer, and many factors need to be examined. People with mental illness deserve to be treated like anyone else. Dr. McLaren argues that mental illness should be treated as seriously as a physical disease. The reason drugs are thrown at people is due to stigma, and we need to start looking at the whole person rather than merely medicating a person’s brain.
If you’re living with mental illness, seeing a psychiatrist in addition to therapy can help. You don’t need to suffer when there are medical professionals that can help you. If you’re considering trying out medication for your mental health problems, talk to an online therapist. You can discuss why you’re interested in pursuing medicine for your mental health issues. Online counselors are available to discuss whatever life challenges you’re experiencing, whether it’s your mental health or a life transition you’re facing, such as a divorce or the death of a family member. Sometimes people consider taking medication for a time-limited period to cope with a life change. These are concerns you can talk out with your therapist before seeing a psychiatrist. Search the network of licensed online therapists here at BetterHelp and find one who works for your needs.