Welcome to the Amazing World of Psychiatry. I believe that Psychiatry has the ability to make the world a better place. In this blog, I will write about psychiatry as it is currently practiced as well as exciting new developments in the field. The definition on the NHS Website describes psychiatry as treating ‘mental health conditions’. It is no easy task to define this term as it covers so many different conditions. Some, such as depression are easier to describe whilst others such as personality disorders can be closely intertwined with culture. Still other conditions are only just emerging and their inclusion amongst the ranks of mental health conditions are being debated. However, they all have one thing in common which is that they all affect this mysterious thing we refer to as the mind. The mind has itself become a cultural phenomenon, shaped according to the various belief systems that contribute to society. Secular humanists will identify the mind as the brain whereas some with a spiritual perspective will see the mind as the receptacle for the soul. The nature of mental health conditions is such that people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours over a reasonable period of time – weeks, months or even years should be taken into account in their assessment. The diagnosis and treatment involves not just the psychiatrist but other mental health professionals as well – nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, art therapists, support workers to name just a few. Treatment can be thought of according to a biopsychosocial model – a biological or medical approach (e.g. medication and ECT), a psychological approach (e.g psychotherapy) and a social approach (e.g. supporting people in the community with carers). All the while as an understanding of the roles of genes improves, as imaging techniques and knowledge of drug actions become more sophisticated so too does society and culture become ever more fluid and complex. These provide psychiatry with many challenges on the quest to relieve the suffering and distress caused by mental illness.
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