What is Psychiatry?
Psychiatry is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioral disorders.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (an M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health, including substance use disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems.
People seek psychiatric help for many reasons. The problems can be sudden, such as a panic attack, frightening hallucinations, thoughts of suicide, or hearing “voices.” Or they may be more long-term, such as feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or anxiousness that never seem to lift or problems functioning, causing everyday life to feel distorted or out of control.
What conditions can psychiatrists treat?
Mental health conditions that may be diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist include:
- anxiety and panic attacks
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- personality disorders
- depression and bipolar disorder
- dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia
- sleep disorders, such as insomnia
- addictions, such as drug or alcohol misuse
Psychiatrists may also provide psychological support for people with long-term, painful or terminal physical health conditions.