Psychiatry is the science dedicated to the study and treatment of mental illness. Its aim is to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate mental disorders .
More recently, in the 19th century, mental disorders began to be scientifically treated as diseases. Until then, people who suffered from mental illness were locked up in asylums and received various treatments with the intention of restoring their reason.
The German Emil Kraepelin (1856-1926) is mentioned as the father of psychiatry and responsible for including this science in the field of medicine. From his contributions, psychiatry began to consider both psychological and social factors as well as biological issues in the treatment of patients.
Psychiatric treatments, therefore, can be divided into two broad types: biological, which may include medicines and apply electric shocks to act on the biochemistry of the brain, and psychotherapeutic treatments, which use the techniques of psychology.
Psychiatry includes subspecialties such as psychopathology (which studies the processes that can lead to mental insanity), psychopharmacology (dedicated to analyzing the effects of drugs on behavioral, emotional, or cognitive treatments), and sexology (the schematic study of human sexuality). .
A professional who specializes in psychiatry is called a psychiatrist. But this one must have a degree in medicine and must have done a residency in psychiatry. This professional performs the diagnosis and defines the treatment for mental issues, such as depression, anxiety, chemical dependencies, etc.
When psychiatric evaluation is performed, in addition to examining the patient’s mental status, the psychiatrist also performs a medical evaluation, as well as an evaluation of the patient’s clinical history.
The psychiatrist may request imaging tests, as well as neurological, psychological and neuropsychological tests to assist in the diagnosis and definition of the appropriate treatment. Other exams such as laboratory and physical exams can be used as a complement.
In psychiatric evaluation, general medical evaluation can contribute to the diagnosis, since general medical conditions can influence the patient’s behavior and can also influence the development of mental disorders.
Psychiatric drugs, also known as psychotropic drugs, constitute an important part of the therapeutic arsenal, something unique in the field of psychiatry, as is the case with non-pharmacological or “physical” procedures (such as electroconvulsive therapy).
There are professionals in the field of psychiatry who specialize in a certain group , according to age group, such as child psychiatrists (specialized in the psychiatric treatment of children and adolescents) and gerontopsychiatrists (specialized in the treatment of the elderly). There are also forensic psychiatrists who specialize in the preparation of sanity reports or even in the treatment of criminals, for example.
A psychiatrist differs from a psychologist, because while the former works in different specialties within psychiatry and is allowed to prescribe medication, the psychologist is one who has a degree in psychology and is qualified to work on problems that are of a psychological or even behavioral nature through of, for example, psychotherapy sessions.
Anti-psychiatry is the set of theories and positions that consider that traditional psychiatry is not beneficial, since it uses inappropriate medical concepts, is associated with the economic interests of the pharmaceutical industry, stigmatizes its patients, and even treats people against their own will.
List of Acronyms Related to Psychiatry