Psychiatrists evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients with mental health problems. These can take many forms, including depression, eating disorders, panic and anxiety attacks, drug and alcohol abuse, phobias, and schizophrenia.
Psychiatrists use a number of techniques to evaluate and diagnose their patients. Like other classes of physicians, they carefully ask the patient questions to obtain relevant information.
They identify what the patient’s symptoms are and study observations from his medical and psychiatric history. Psychiatrists also work closely with other professionals, such as GPs and mental health social workers, to make a diagnosis.
An important difference from the diagnosis of physical illness is that psychiatrists can, by law, enforce treatment of patients against their will. This occurs only when the patient is in danger of harming himself or others.
Many mental health problems and illnesses can be treated very effectively. Because psychiatrists are doctors, they can prescribe medications, although there are many other types of treatment.
During their training, psychiatrists may specialize in psychotherapy. That allows them to use different kinds of talk therapy, like cognitive behavioral therapy. In general, these talking therapies allow patients to understand and cope with their illness in a positive way.
Psychiatrists are often part of a team. For example, they can work with social workers and occupational therapists to improve the patient’s independence and quality of life at work, at home, and in social relationships.
In planning and administering treatment, psychiatrists tend to work with other mental health physicians and nurses. They may be working with staff in places like youth centers, social work departments, and nursing homes.
In psychiatry, there are several specialized fields (specialties), which we cite below.
- The general psychiatrists Adults require extensive knowledge of psychiatric issues and treatments, even though they may have a particular interest in a particular area, such as eating disorders or drug dependence.
- The old age psychiatry treats mental health problems experienced by older people. The treatment and care of people with senile dementia is a major challenge, although in this field psychiatrists deal with the full range of psychiatric problems.
- The child and adolescent psychiatry it has to do with the intellectual, emotional and behavioral problems of children from birth to the end of compulsory school. The psychiatrist has to establish a close relationship with the child and his family. They address issues such as eating disorders, school integration problems, drug and alcohol abuse, and depression.
- The forensic psychiatrists they work with criminals who have mental health problems. They care for and treat criminals in prisons, as well as in general and psychiatric hospitals. Forensic psychiatrists also collaborate with the courts of law, helping to decide on issues such as criminal liability.
- The psychiatrists specializing in learning disabilities treat mental health problems of people with learning disabilities. For example, a patient with learning difficulties may also have depression, anxiety, or great frustration.
While every psychiatrist needs basic knowledge of psychotherapy, some choose to specialize in one area. They evaluate and treat people who have, for example, personality and behavior disorders, sexual and interpersonal problems. They use talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.