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

From “wow” to “meh” – 8 ways to deal with any letdown

By F. Diane Barth L.C.S.W. on March 28, 2015 in Off the Couch
Has this happened to you? You love everything about your new job – your terrific boss, your fabulous co-workers and your first assignment. Even your little cubicle is in the perfect location, with a bit of sunlight from a nearby window and near all of the right people. And then, sometimes all of a sudden, sometimes just bit-by-bit, you start to feel less excited.

Are We Losing Our Need for Physical Touch?

By Ray Williams on March 28, 2015 in Wired for Success
Has our hi-tech, media-socialized world lost something critical to our species—non-sexual human physical touch? Hasn't human physical contact set us apart from other animals, and has helped us develop complex language, culture, thinking and emotional expression?

Changing the ‘No Casserole’ Response to Mental Illness

A mother of two who is active in the International Bipolar Foundation shared a story the other day. When her youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, friends called, sent cards and flowers, brought food, and posted encouraging Facebook messages.

Dr. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann: Creativity in Psychotherapy

Treatment of psychotic patients is very difficult and many practitioners believe that it is impossible to employ psychotherapy ef with such patients. Frieda Fromm-Reichmann was a courageous and creative therapist who extended and improved treatment in dramatic and sustaining ways. Her work has been a model for all mental health practitioners treating severely ill patients.

A Corporate Push to End the Stigma of Mental Illness

By Sigurd Ackerman M.D. on March 27, 2015 in Shrink Tales
A new era of corporate acknowledgment of, and support for, mental health would give a dramatic boost to how we address mental illness in America.

It’s Complicated: Ten Years After

By A Guest Blogger on March 27, 2015 in Brainstorm
Grief is a fickle and complicated lifelong journey that can assault its victims with debilitating symptoms at any time after its origin. Understanding that grief knows no time limit can ease the path toward acceptance.

Did Copilot Andreas Lubitz Conceal His Illness?

Many patients with severe, melancholic depression dissimulate and pretend that everything is fine so that family and caregivers will not block their suicidal plans. This danger of dissimulation in severe depression is something that psychiatrists have always known about.

What Makes You Say You’re Lonely?

By Peter Toohey on March 26, 2015 in Annals of the Emotions
What does it mean to be lonely and how do say that you are lonely? Is language enough to describe it? Are you lonely just because you think you are lonely and say you are lonely? Or are specific circumstances required for there to be loneliness? What does loneliness mean for the animal and human brain? Is loneliness and the word “loneliness” common to all cultures?

Precision Medicine’s Cultural Limits

"Everyone is different." This is the fundamental tenant of Precision Medicine: to utilize this difference to improve outcome. Real life is more complicated, and there is a lot that is not yet worked out before this approach will yield benefits.

Anorexia and the Dangers of Blog Post Titles

By Emily T. Troscianko on March 26, 2015 in A Hunger Artist
Few topics induce stronger emotion than parenting and children’s illness, and where emotions are heightened miscommunication can easily occur. Here I try to clarify my mother’s original argument, respond to some readers’ comments which blur the crucial distinction between personal and scientific ‘findings’, and reflect on the role of choice in recovery from anorexia.

Anorexia Affects More Men Than Previously Thought

Anorexia and bulimia are traditionally seen as “female problems” but recent studies show that approximately one third of people with anorexia and about one half of those with bulimia are men.

Delirious Mania?

On March 9, on a Monday afternoon in DeKalb County, Georgia, Anthony Hill, a black Air Force veteran in postdeployment from Afghanistan, removed all his clothes, slid down from the balcony of his second-floor apartment, and began walking.

The Case of Claire Underwood

Two weeks ago, I used the character of Frank Underwood as a “case study” to illustrate the misunderstood psychiatric diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder, and many of you asked: Well, what about his wife, Claire?

What Parents Can’t Do

More than twice as many states required parental consent for mental health treatment than for substance abuse treatment.

Creativity and Mental Illness II: The Scream

In a previous post, I showed Jackson Pollock's creation of abstract expressionism during a healthy period. Here, we see Edvard Munch's use of healthy creative processes to produce the famous lithograph "The Scream." Although both artists suffered from Bipolar Disorders, their creative work and thinking consisted of healthy mental processes.

When You Don't Have Time for Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Now that spring has sprung, it's a good time to focus on becoming healthier. For many, this may sound like an overwhelming task. But creating small, reasonable goals is the best way to make lifestyle changes.

March Madness

By Jeffrey Lieberman M.D. on March 24, 2015 in Shrink Speak
Students and parents rarely consider that they might need mental health services during college and often urgently. For this reason, they would be well advised to include the quality and availability of mental health services along with traditional considerations as they decide on the college of their choice.

Falls End Lives; Good Balance Saves Them

By Allen J Frances M.D. on March 24, 2015 in DSM5 in Distress
Falling is a major cause of disability and death. Physical exercise and specific balance tasks greatly reduce the risks. People who don't change their behavior to prevent falls are almost sure to have them.

Why AA is Bad Science…and What It Means for Treatment

Why then is AA’s 12-step model the “go to” treatment choice for most Americans? The answer is simple—for most of its history, AA really was the only treatment available for addicts and alcoholics.

10 Ways Musical Training Boosts Brain Power

A wide range of new research shows that playing a musical instrument can boost brain function throughout a person's lifespan.

The Politicization of Mental Health

By David J Ley Ph.D. on March 22, 2015 in Women Who Stray
Shootings, deaths and tragedies involving mental illness fill our news every day. Politicians are talking about mental health more than ever before. But, most political efforts to reform these issues ignore the deep underlying issues of funding, regulatory complexity and access which inhibit real reform.

How to Know if Your Teen Is Seriously Suicidal

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 21, 2015 in Open Gently
Headaches, insomnia, all-over skin sensations, and drinking alcohol are all danger signs.

Cold Hearts or Broken Brains?

I remember the very first feeling I had, was my heart pounding. I mean really pounding. The second feeling I had was that my hands were sweating. And the third feeling was fear, and the kind of reality set in that there was a murderer in front of me.

The End of Stigma

Brazil's campaign to tackle mental health discrimination.

What Schizophrenia Teaches Us About Perception

By Allie Burke on March 20, 2015 in Paper Souls
The very definition of schizophrenia stigmatizes the entire human race as a parallel universe, thereby refusing the reality of exclusivity.

Is ADHD Genetically Influenced? Yes!

The evidence that ADHD behaviors have at least some genetic influence is absolutely overwhelming. Distorting and cherry picking research is not the way to advance good discussion on important topics.

Genetics and the Ides of March

The change of seasons has long been known to cause changes in mental health. Is there a genetic component?

4 Predictions for the Future of Addiction Treatment

While there are no easy answers, either for those struggling with substance use disorders or those attempting to help them, science gives us much to hope for, and accumulated experience is teaching us better each day what works and what doesn’t.

Sexism in Mental Health Practice

Misogyny in the mental health system warrants special attention during Women's History Month.

Children Who Kill Are Often Victims Too

Children who murder have often been severely abused or neglected and have experienced a tumultuous home life