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

How Can I Retire If I Was Never Tired in the First Place?

By Loren A. Olson M.D. on January 16, 2018 in Finally Out
A "third age" exists between the end of work and before fragility and dependency set in, and people follow diverse pathways of work and leisure in their retirements.

How 1930s Psychoanalysts Thought Self-Harm Explained War

Psychoanalysts in the 1930s saw self-harm as evidence of universal drives, which explained not only self-injury but war and violence. What is the legacy of their research today?

Brain Networks in TMS for Combined PTSD and Major Depression

Transcranial magnetic stimulation is a promising treatment for people with both PTSD and depression. New TMS research gives insight into how to refine existing approaches.

Stigma, Psychopathology, and President Trump

Virtually everyone experiences a decline in fluid intelligence after about 70 years on the planet.
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Family Relationships in Early Stages of Substance Use Change

By Michael Ascher M.D. on January 11, 2018 in Unhooked
Whether you are the person with the substance use problem in early stages of change or someone who loves them, everyone needs a road map to navigate existing family relationships.

Rating Scales Can Kill You

By Matthew J. Edlund M.D. on January 11, 2018 in The Power of Rest
The gaming of health care rating systems is a public health hazard.

"Sonic Attack" Not Mass Hysteria, Says Top Doc—He's Wrong!

By Robert Bartholomew Ph.D. on January 10, 2018 in It's Catching
State department doctor gives stunning testimony on sonic attack claims.

Sigmund Freud Hated America: 5 Reasons Why

As a boy, Freud hung a copy of the Declaration of Independence in his room and memorized the Gettysburg Address. As an adult, he came to loathe everything American.

How Stigma Kills Doctors

Stigma is driving suicide in some doctors. Fortunately, courageous stories of doctors living with psychiatric illness are unlocking the shame.

How and Why to Diagnose Psychopathic Narcissism

By Stephen A. Diamond Ph.D. on January 08, 2018 in Evil Deeds
When are mental disorders defined and diagnosed by the suffering inflicted on others?

Attachment Style, Adult Well-Being, and Childhood Trauma

Research spanning decades looks at how maltreatment of children plays out in adulthood.

Thomas Szasz: An Evaluation

By Nassir Ghaemi M.D., M.P.H. on January 05, 2018 in Mood Swings
Why did Thomas Szasz reject the idea of mental illness? Why was he wrong when right, and sometimes just dangerously wrong?

Is Good Insight Always a Good Thing?

By Philip Yanos Ph.D. on January 04, 2018 in Written Off
Because of stigma, the effects of "good" insight into one's condition can be a mixed bag.

Deep Brain Stimulation Without Surgery

A technique to selectively stimulate specific brain regions without the need for surgery has been developed recently. Such technology has tremendous therapeutic potential.

What Is Your Risk for Clinical Depression after Disasters?

By Grant Hilary Brenner M.D. on December 30, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Due to the increasing prevalence of disasters, including natural disasters, technological accidents and terrorism, understanding risk and intervention is more important than ever.
"Yin and Yang" by Klem - This vector image was created with Inkscape by Klem, and then manually edited by Mnmazur.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

Insomnia and Heart Disease

By John Cline Ph.D. on December 30, 2017 in Sleepless in America
Over the past decade increasing evidence has emerged indicating that insomnia, especially when it occurs in a setting of short sleep, is related to heart disease.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Unipolar Mania

Unipolar mania (mania without depression) is currently diagnosed as bipolar I disorder. But scientific evidence suggests that it may be a subtype of ADHD.

Antidepressant Not Working? You Could Be a "Nonresponder"

By Christopher Bergland on December 29, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Why do some antidepressants work for one person but not another? The answer to this question has baffled psychopharmacologists for decades. Finally, a new study offers fresh clues.

Energetic Therapies in Mental Health Care

Curious about uses of energetic therapies in mental health care?

Why Do We Misunderstand Depression?

By Jean Kim M.D. on December 28, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Depression is an illness that reflects the complex relationship between brain biology and life stressors. But coping with it is never as simple as "snapping out of it."

Cooling Brain Inflammation Naturally with Food

By Georgia Ede MD on December 27, 2017 in Diagnosis: Diet
Which foods tilt your brain towards inflammation and away from healing?

Dickens' "Christmas Carol"

Charles Dickens, in " A Christmas Carol", taught us all we need to know about character formation, the effects of trauma, and the healing process of mourning.

What Is Cranial Electrostimulation?

By Emily Deans M.D. on December 22, 2017 in Evolutionary Psychiatry
A very small electric current applied to the brain from an FDA-cleared device can reduce anxiety, insomnia, and even depression and pain syndromes.
M. Farrell

The Subtle Art of Poisoning

By Katherine Ramsland Ph.D. on December 22, 2017 in Shadow Boxing
The who, what, how, and why of poisoning explained for those who must investigate these killers and bring them to trial.

How to Know You're in a Good Therapy for Addiction

By Lance Dodes M.D. on December 21, 2017 in The Heart of Addiction
Finding the right therapy for addiction is critical. Here are some things to watch out for.

Bergdahl and Moral Injury in War-Related PTSD

By Jean Kim M.D. on December 20, 2017 in Culture Shrink
Bowe Bergdahl's controversial desertion and return highlights the dilemmas of moral injury and its relationship to PTSD in combat zones.

Revisiting Preempting the Holocaust: Frankl versus Levi

How I came to develop a phenomenology of Holocaust survival.

Helping Kids Who Grieve During the Holidays

By David Rettew M.D. on December 15, 2017 in ABCs of Child Psychiatry
For many kids, the joys of the season are mixed with feelings of loss. Here are a few thoughts aimed to help those dealing with grief during the holiday.

Depression: A Symptom, Not a Disorder

By David M. Allen M.D. on December 15, 2017 in A Matter of Personality
In the popular press and even in articles meant for professionals, the term "depression" is used as if it were a scientific word, when it is a symptom of many different diagnoses.

Top 10 Things You May Not Know About the ICD-10

By Jonathan D. Raskin, Ph.D. on December 13, 2017 in Making Meaning
American mental health professionals are often quite unfamiliar with aspects the ICD-10, despite its relevance to their work. Here is some basic information to help them.