What is Psychiatry?

In its ongoing attempts to define, understand, and categorize disorders, and determine the best treatments, the medical specialty of psychiatry is always up against the protean complexity of the human brain. Both biological factors and environmental factors contribute to symptoms of distress, and the role each plays varies from person to person. Both psychotherapy and drugs are effective for most psychiatric disorders, and often a combination of the two works best, although the effects kick in on different timetables.

Recent posts on Psychiatry

The Dean of USC's Medical School Used Addictive Drugs

By Stanton Peele on July 26, 2017 in Addiction in Society
When a prominent medical school dean was revealed to have used so-called "addictive drugs" before, he was terminated instantly due to what school authorities called his "disease."

The Hubris of Neuroscience

Pop neuroscience represents a reductionistic misapplication of knowledge, ignores differences between persons, and negates explanations of human conduct in terms of free will.

Misreport Spreads That Psychiatrists May Now Diagnose Trump

As misunderstood news spread that psychiatrists may now comment on Trump's mental condition, the American Psychiatric Association sought to correct the mistake.

A Possible New Treatment for Post-Partum Depression

A neuroactive steroid whose levels increase dramatically during pregnancy and then fall rapidly after delivery is reported to be effective in treating post-partum depression.

Mental Illness as Strategy: Game Theory and Psychiatry

Mental illness--like depression, anxiety, and even schizophrenia--is a game, a strategy, invented by the player (often without acknowledgment) to achieve some end, or "payoff."

Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry: Autonomy vs. Heteronomy

The psychiatrist as state agent, the psychoanalyst as contractual helper.
David Hellerstein

Unlocking the Unconscious: 30 Years Later

Thirty years ago Short Term Dynamic Therapy was poised to take over the world of psychotherapy. What happened?

Two Psychiatrists Weigh in on Netflix’s 'To the Bone'

We wish the film’s message had been more clear: Eating disorders are severe, life-threatening illnesses that have the highest mortality rate of any psychiatric illness.

You Must Be Strong

How are Syrian refugees coping without mental health services?

Does the Unconscious Really Exist?

By David B. Feldman Ph.D. on July 17, 2017 in Supersurvivors
One of the oldest ideas in psychology is that we have an unconscious mind that, despite our best intentions, is the real controlling force in our lives. But is this really true?

Allowing the Emotional Painfulness of the Bipolar Diagnosis

A discussion of the importance of allowing the emotional pain that may accompany the bipolar diagnosis.

The 100-Year Plan

By Kaja Perina on July 13, 2017 in Brainstorm
Psychology Today is 50 years old! The next 50 years will bring the ability not just to quantify but also to alter the brain—the golden age of behavioral science is just beginning.

When You Can't Afford Mental Health Treatment

Healthcare is a buzzworthy topic in our nation right now. As mental health providers, we have grave concerns about the future of mental health coverage.

Being Bayesian in Insane Places

Can we really make progress in improving reliability of detecting problematic psychiatric events using computational tools?
pixabay open source

The Lexicon of Delirium

We must depart from traditional perspectives on delirium that have presented it as an entity without history, and one bordering on a transcendent ideal.

A Lethal Trifecta

Are you worried about a doctor colleague or family member or friend? Here are some things to think about.

Playing Politics with Mental Illness

Unsubstantiated allegations of mental illness directed toward public figures reinforce the pervasive stigma associated with mental disorders. Who is really being harmed?

Responding to Cultural Challenges on Campus

By Marcia Morris M.D. on July 09, 2017 in College Wellness
In the face of current cultural anxieties, we can continue to encourage safety, academic success, and social belonging.

Committed: The Battle Over Involuntary Psychiatric Care

No other issues in mental health seem to ignite flames as great and persistent as do liberty and privacy.

Shame of Our Cities: Neglect of the Mentally Ill

By Allen J Frances M.D. on July 07, 2017 in Saving Normal
A step-by-step comparison illustrates that the United States is the worst place in the world to be mentally ill and that Trieste is the best.

“Memory Athletes” and the Rest of Us

With a specific type of memory training, individuals can alter connections within and between brain networks to resemble connections found in the brains of elite memory athletes.

The ABC of the Diametric Model, Twenty Years On

Twenty years after it was first published, the diametric model can be seen as a striking co-discovery like so many others in the history of science.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation Helps Treatment-Resistant Depression

A 5-year study reports that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) significantly improved treatment-resistant depression outcomes when compared to the treatment-as-usual arm of the study.
Wikimedia Commons

What is PTSD Exactly?

Back to the basics for understanding PTSD.

Breaking Through the Wall of Schizophrenia

Research shows that people who have experienced trauma are more likely to be psychotic. Surprisingly, being bullied is one kind of trauma.
Freepik

Ketogenic Diets for Psychiatric Disorders: A New 2017 Review

By Georgia Ede MD on June 30, 2017 in Diagnosis: Diet
What can a low-carbohydrate diet do for your mental health?

Brain Fertilizer

The genes coding for BDNF are another area where researchers are looking at the pathology behind psychiatric illness, and finding helpful clues to guide clinical treatment.

Four Different Biotypes of Depression

Psychiatry lacks biological tools to assist in diagnosis and treatment. New research on brain network "biotypes" is a major step forward in developing biomarkers for depression.

Beyond Bedlam’s Door

By The Book Brigade on June 29, 2017 in The Author Speaks
Inside the consulting room, psychiatrists are witness to the daily drama of mental health, and many of the stories that unfold are stranger than most fiction.

Why Do Some People Pull at Their Hair When Anxious?

Do you pull, tug or fiddle with your hair when you are anxious? Does hair pulling in turn exacerbate your anxiety? How can you break the cycle?