What is Psychiatry?


Overview of Psychiatry
The Surgeon General’s report, Mental Health: Culture, Race and Ethnicity, unequivocally states that “mental health is fundamental to overall health and productivity.  It is the basis for successful contributions to family, community, and society.  Throughout the lifespan, mental health is the wellspring of thinking and communication skills, learning, resilience, and self-esteem.”  The report goes on to say, “Mental health problems are real and disabling conditions that are experienced by one in five people.  Left untreated, mental health can result in disability and despair for families, schools, communities, and the workplace.”  Psychiatry is the medical field which specialize in the treatment of Mental Health Disorders.

What is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health and emotional problems.  Because of extensive medical training, the psychiatrist understands the body’s functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illness.  The psychiatrist is thus the mental health professional and physician best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress.  Psychiatrists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health.

Mental health, including addictions, are common.  Like other medical illnesses, mental health range from severe and life-threatening disorders to relatively mild and self-limiting conditions.  Approximately 2.8% of the adult population suffers from severe mental health, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, or from the more common, yet disabling, anxiety and depressive disorders or from alcohol and other substance abuse.

How is a Mental Health Diagnosis made?

Psychiatrists and Clinical Psychologists can make a diagnosis using the DSM-V. DSM-V Codes are the classification found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, also known as DSM-V a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) that includes all currently recognized mental health disorders. The DSM-V codes are thus used by mental health professionals to describe the features of a given mental disorder and indicate how the disorder can be distinguished from other, similar problems.