AskDefine | Define psychiatry

Dictionary Definition

psychiatry n : the branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders [syn: psychopathology, psychological medicine]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Etymology

From ψυχή + ἰατρεία from ἰάομαι.

Noun

  1. The branch of medicine that subjectively diagnoses, treats, and studies mental illness and behavioural conditions.

Derived terms

Translations

branch of medicine dealing with mental illness
  • Arabic: الطب النفسي
  • Czech: psychiatrie
  • Finnish: psykiatria
  • French: psychiatrie
  • Italian: psichiatria

Extensive Definition

Psychiatry is a medical specialty which exists to study, prevent, and treat mental disorders in humans. The science of the clinical application of psychiatry has been considered a bridge between the social world and those who are mentally ill. Those who practice psychiatry are different than most other mental health professionals and physicians in that they must be familiar with both the social and biological sciences. The discipline is interested in the operations of different organs and body systems as classified by the patient's subjective experiences and the objective physiology of the patient. Psychiatry exists to treat mental disorders which are conventionally divided into three very general categories; mental illness, severe learning disability, and personality disorder. While the focus of psychiatry has changed little throughout time, the diagnostic and treatment processes have evolved dramatically and continue to do so. Since the late 20th century, the field of psychiatry has continued to become more biological and less conceptually isolated from the field of medicine.

Scope of practice

While the medical specialty of psychiatry utilizes research in the field of neuroscience, psychology, medicine, biology, biochemistry, and pharmacology, it has generally been considered a middle ground between neurology and psychology. Unlike other physicians and neurologists, psychiatrists specialize in the doctor-patient relationship and are trained in the use of psychotherapy and other therepautic communication techniques. Psychiatrists can therefore prescribe medication, order laboratory tests, utilize neuroimaging in a clinical setting, and conduct physical examinations.

Ethics

Like other professions, the World Psychiatric Association issues an ethical code to govern the conduct of psychiatrists. The psychiatric code of ethics, first set forth through the Declaration of Hawaii in 1977, has been expanded through a 1983 Vienna update and, in 1996, the broader Madrid Declaration. The code was further revised in Hamburg, 1999. The World Psychiatric Association code covers such matters as patient assessment, up-to-date knowledge, the human dignity of incapacitated patients, confidentiality, research ethics, sex selection, euthanasia, organ transplantation, torture, the death penalty, media relations, genetics, and ethnic or cultural discrimination. In establishing such ethical codes, the profession has responded to a number of controversies about the practice of psychiatry.
Various subspecialties and/or theoretical approaches exist which are related to the field of psychiatry. They include the following:
  • Biological psychiatry; an approach to psychiatry that aims to understand mental disorder in terms of the biological function of the nervous system.
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry; a branch of psychiatry that specialises in work with children, teenagers, and their families.
  • Cross-cultural psychiatry; a branch of psychiatry concerned with the cultural and ethnic context of mental disorder and psychiatric services.
  • Emergency psychiatry; the clinical application of psychiatry in emergency settings.
  • Forensic psychiatry; the interface between law and psychiatry.
  • Geriatric psychiatry; a branch of psychiatry dealing with the study, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders in humans with old age.
  • Liaison psychiatry; the branch of psychiatry that specializes in the interface between other medical specialties and psychiatry.
  • Military psychiatry; covers special aspects of psychiatry and mental disorders within the military context.
  • Neuropsychiatry; branch of medicine dealing with mental disorders attributable to diseases of the nervous system.
  • Social psychiatry; a branch of psychiatry that focuses on the interpersonal and cultural context of mental disorder and mental wellbeing.

History

Ancient times

Starting in the 5th century BC, mental disorders, especially those with psychotic traits, were considered supernatural in origin. This view existed throughout ancient Greece and Rome. In 4th century BC, Hippocrates theorized that physiological abnormalities may be the root of mental disorders.
In the 11th century, another Persian physician Avicenna recognized 'physiological psychology' in the treatment of illnesses involving emotions, and developed a system for associating changes in the pulse rate with inner feelings, which is seen as a percursor to the word association test developed by Carl Jung in the 19th century. Avicenna was also an early pioneer of neuropsychiatry, and first described a number of neuropsychiatric conditions such as hallucination, insomnia, mania, nightmare, melancholia, dementia, epilepsy, paralysis, stroke, vertigo and tremor.
Psychiatric hospitals were built in medieval Europe from the 13th century to treat mental disorders but were utilized only as custodial institutions and did not provide any type of treatment. Founded in the 13th century, Bethlem Royal Hospital in London is one of the oldest psychiatric hospitals.

Early modern period

In 1656, Louis XIV of France created a public system of hospitals for those suffering from mental disorders, but as in England, no real treatment was being applied. Thirty years later the new ruling monarch in England, George III, was known to be suffering from a mental disorder. It inspired similar institutions in the United States, most notably the Brattleboro Retreat and the Hartford Retreat (now the Institute of Living).

19th century

At the turn of the century, England and France combined only had a few hundred individuals in asylums. By the late 1890s and early 1900s, this number skyrocketed to the hundreds of thousands. Due to the relationship between the universities and asylums, scores of competitive psychiatrists were being molded in Germany. This deficit hindered the diffusion of new ideas in medicine and psychiatry. By 1840, asylums existing as therapeutic institutions existed throughout Europe and the United States. 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 mental status examinations and physical examinations are conducted, pathological, psychopathological and psychosocial histories obtained, neuroimages or other neurophysiological measurements are taken, and personality tests or cognitive tests may be administered. In addition psychiatrists are beginning to utilize genetics during the diagnostic process. Some endophenotypes being researched may predispose certain individuals to certain conditions.
Diagnostic manuals
Three main diagnostic manuals used to classify mental health conditions are in use today. The ICD-10 is produced and published by the World Health Organisation and includes a section on psychiatric conditions, and is used worldwide. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, produced and published by the American Psychiatric Association, is solely focused on mental health conditions and is the main classification tool in the United States. It is currently in its fourth revised edition and is also used worldwide.
The stated intention of diagnostic manuals is typically to develop replicable and clinically useful categories and criteria, to facilitate consensus and agreed standards, whilst being atheoretical as regards etiology. However, the categories are nevertheless based on particular psychiatric theories and data; they are broad and often specified by numerous possible combinations of symptoms, and many of the categories overlap in symptomology or typically occur together. While originally intended only as a guide for experienced clinicians trained in its use, the nomenclature is now widely used by clinicians, administrators and insurance companies in many countries.

Treatment settings

General considerations
Individuals with mental health conditions are commonly referred to as patients but may also be called clients, consumers, or service recipients. They may come under the care of a psychiatric physician or other psychiatric practitioners by various paths, the two most common being self-referral or referral by a primary-care physician. Alternatively, a person may be referred by hospital medical staff, by court order, involuntary commitment, or, in the UK and Australia, by sectioning under a mental health law.
Whatever the circumstance of a person's referral, a psychiatrist first assesses a person's mental and physical condition. This usually involves interviewing the person and often obtaining information from other sources such as other health and social care professionals, relatives, associates, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel and psychiatric rating scales. A physical examination is usually performed to establish or exclude other illnesses, such as thyroid dysfunction or brain tumors, or identify any signs of self-harm; this examination may be done by someone else other than the psychiatrist, especially if blood tests and medical imaging are performed.
Like all medications, psychiatric medications can cause adverse effects in patients and hence often involve ongoing therapeutic drug monitoring, for instance full blood counts or, for patients taking lithium salts, serum levels of lithium, renal and thyroid function. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes administered for serious and disabling conditions, especially those unresponsive to medication. The efficacity and adverse effects of psychiatric drugs has been challenged. The close relationship between those prescribing psychiatric medication and pharmaceutical companies has become increasingly controversial along with the influence which pharmaceutical companies are exerting on mental health policies.
Inpatient treatment
Psychiatric treatments have changed over the past several decades. In the past, psychiatric patients were often hospitalized for six months or more, with some cases involving hospitalization for many years. Today, people receiving psychiatric treatment are more likely to be seen as outpatients. If hospitalization is required, the average hospital stay is around one to two weeks, with only a small number receiving long-term hospitalization.
Individuals with mental health problems are commonly referred to as patients but may also be called clients, consumers, or service recipients. They may come under the care of a psychiatric physician or other psychiatric practitioners by various paths, the two most common being self-referral or referral by a primary-care physician. Alternatively, a person may be referred by hospital medical staff, by court order, involuntary commitment, or, in the UK and Australia, by sectioning under a mental health law.
Whatever the circumstance of a person's referral, a psychiatrist first assesses a person's mental and physical condition. This usually involves interviewing the person and often obtaining information from other sources such as other health and social care professionals, relatives, associates, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel and psychiatric rating scales. A physical examination is usually performed to establish or exclude other illnesses, such as thyroid dysfunction or brain tumors, or identify any signs of self-harm; this examination may be done by someone else other than the psychiatrist, especially if blood tests and medical imaging are performed.
Psychiatric inpatients are people admitted to a hospital or clinic to receive psychiatric care. Some are admitted involuntarily, perhaps committed to a secure hospital, or in some jurisdictions to a facility within the prison system. In many countries including the USA and Canada, the criteria for involuntary admission vary with local jurisdiction. They may be as broad as having a mental health condition, or as narrow as being an immediate danger to themselves and/or others. Bed availability is often the real determinant of admission decisions to hard pressed public facilities. European Human Rights legislation restricts detention to medically-certified cases of mental disorder, and adds a right to timely judicial review of detention.
Patients may be admitted voluntarily if the treating doctor considers that safety isn't compromised by this less restrictive option. Inpatient psychiatric wards may be secure (for those thought to have a particular risk of violence or self-harm) or unlocked/open. Some wards are mixed-sex whilst same-sex wards are increasingly favored to protect women inpatients.
Once in the care of a hospital, people are assessed, monitored, and often given medication and care from a multidisciplinary team, which may include physicians, psychiatric nurse practitioners, psychiatric nurses, clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatric social workers, occupational therapists and social workers. If a person receiving treatment in a psychiatric hospital is assessed as at particular risk of harming themselves or others, they may be put on constant or intermittent one-to-one supervision, and may be physically restrained or medicated. People on inpatient wards may be allowed leave for periods of time, either accompanied or on their own.
In many developed countries there has been a massive reduction in psychiatric beds since the mid 20th century, with the growth of community care. Standards of inpatient care remain a challenge in some public and private facilities, due to levels of funding, and facilities in developing countries are typically grossly inadequate for the same reason.
Outpatient treatment
People receiving psychiatric care may do so on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Outpatient treatment involves periodic visits to a clinician for consultation in his or her office, usually for an appointment lasting thirty to sixty minutes. These consultations normally involve the psychiatric practitioner interviewing the person to update their assessment of the person's condition, and to provide psychotherapy or review medication. The frequency with which a psychiatric practitioner sees people in treatment varies widely, from days to months, depending on the type, severity and stability of each person's condition, and depending on what the clinician and client decide would be best. Increasingly, psychiatrists are limiting their practice to psychopharmacology (prescribing medications) with less time devoted to psychotherapy or "talk" therapies, or behavior modification. The role of psychiatrists is changing in community psychiatry, with many assuming more leadership roles, coordinating and supervising teams of allied health professionals and junior doctors in delivery of health services.

Related topics

References

General references

  • Ford-Martin, Paula Anne Gale (2002), "Psychosis" Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • Hirschfeld et al 2003, "Perceptions and impact of bipolar disorder: how far have we really come?", J. Clin. Psychiatry vol.64(2), p.161-174.
  • McGorry PD, Mihalopoulos C, Henry L et al (1995) Spurious precision: procedural validity of diagnostic assessment in psychiatric disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry 152 (2) 220-223
  • MedFriendly.com, Psychologist, Viewed 20 September, 2006
  • Moncrieff J, Cohen D. (2005). Rethinking models of psychotropic drug action. Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics, 74, 145-153
  • C. Burke, Psychiatry: a "value-free" science? Linacre Quarterly, vol. 67/1 (Feb. 2000), pp. 59-88. http://www.cormacburke.or.ke/node/693
  • National Association of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapists, What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?, Viewed 20 September, 2006
  • van Os J, Gilvarry C, Bale R et al (1999) A comparison of the utility of dimensional and categorical representations of psychosis. Psychological Medicine 29 (3) 595-606
  • Williams, J.B., Gibbon, M., First, M., Spitzer, R., Davies, M., Borus, J., Howes, M., Kane, J., Pope, H., Rounsaville, B., and Wittchen, H. (1992). The structured clinical interview for DSM-III-R (SCID) II: Multi-site test-retest reliability. Archives of General Psychiatry, 49, 630-636.
psychiatry in Afrikaans: Psigiatrie
psychiatry in Arabic: طب نفسي
psychiatry in Bengali: মনোরোগবিদ্যা
psychiatry in Bulgarian: Психиатрия
psychiatry in Catalan: Psiquiatria
psychiatry in Czech: Psychiatrie
psychiatry in Danish: Psykiatri
psychiatry in German: Psychiatrie
psychiatry in Estonian: Psühhiaatria
psychiatry in Spanish: Psiquiatría
psychiatry in Esperanto: Psikiatrio
psychiatry in Basque: Psikiatria
psychiatry in French: Psychiatrie
psychiatry in Irish: Síciatracht
psychiatry in Galician: Psiquiatría
psychiatry in Korean: 정신의학
psychiatry in Croatian: Psihijatrija
psychiatry in Indonesian: Psikiatri
psychiatry in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Psychiatria
psychiatry in Italian: Psichiatria
psychiatry in Hebrew: פסיכיאטריה
psychiatry in Latin: Psychiatria
psychiatry in Lithuanian: Psichiatrija
psychiatry in Hungarian: Pszichiátria
psychiatry in Dutch: Psychiatrie
psychiatry in Nepali: मानसिक चिकित्सा
psychiatry in Japanese: 精神医学
psychiatry in Norwegian: Psykiatri
psychiatry in Norwegian Nynorsk: Psykiatri
psychiatry in Polish: Psychiatria
psychiatry in Portuguese: Psiquiatria
psychiatry in Romanian: Psihiatrie
psychiatry in Russian: Психиатрия
psychiatry in Simple English: Psychiatry
psychiatry in Slovak: Psychiatria
psychiatry in Slovenian: Psihiatrija
psychiatry in Serbian: Психијатрија
psychiatry in Serbo-Croatian: Psihijatrija
psychiatry in Finnish: Psykiatria
psychiatry in Swedish: Psykiatri
psychiatry in Thai: จิตเวชศาสตร์
psychiatry in Turkish: Psikiyatri
psychiatry in Ukrainian: Психіатрія
psychiatry in Urdu: طب نفسی
psychiatry in Yiddish: פסיכיאטריע
psychiatry in Chinese: 精神病学
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1