Psychiatry is the branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural 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.
Psychiatrists use a variety of treatments – including various forms of psychotherapy, medications, psychosocial interventions and other treatments (such as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), depending on the needs of each patient. Most medications are used by psychiatrists in much the same way that medications are used to treat high blood pressure or diabetes.
Class of Medications
Antidepressants – used to treat depression, panic disorder, PTSD, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder and eating disorders.
Antipsychotic medications – used to treat psychotic symptoms (delusions and hallucinations), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder.
Sedatives and anxiolytics – used to treat anxiety and insomnia.
Hypnotics – used to induce and maintain sleep.
Mood stabilizers – used to treat bipolar disorder.
Stimulants – used to treat ADHD.