Psychiatry is a medical specialty focusing on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental health disorders. A psychiatrist who specialises in mental health assesses the physical and mental features of a psychological problem. A person’s mental health is influenced by factors specific to the individual and influenced by their surroundings, such as family, relationships, the community and society. Mental health problems affect a large percentage of the population and can be treated using appropriate medication, treatments and therapies. Psychiatrists are distinct from psychologists or counsellors because they are medically qualified, and therefore able to prescribe medications as part of a treatment plan.
What does a psychiatrist treat?
There are over 200 classified types of mental health disorders. Below are a list of the most common conditions a psychiatrist treats:
What subspecialties are included under psychiatry?
There are three sub-specialties of general psychiatry:
Substance Misuse Psychiatry – specialises in psychiatry related to patients who use or are addicted to drugs.
Liaison Psychiatry – this specialises in psychiatry within a general medical setting, such as a hospital. The role of the psychiatrist here is to provide psychiatric care to medical patients.
Rehabilitation Psychiatry – this specialises in the restoration of an individual diagnosed with a mental health disorder to the community.
When should you see a psychiatrist?
When a mental health disorder, such as anxiety or depression, becomes so bad that it impacts your daily life, it’s probably time to see a psychiatrist to get a proper diagnosis. In addition, if you or your support network believe your condition poses a risk to you or others around you, you must see a specialist and have an evaluation. Your GP will normally refer you to a psychiatrist in these cases. After proper diagnosis, you might begin treatment with the psychiatrist or your GP can manage it for you.