What is Psychiatry?

What is Psychiatry?

Psychotherapy is a modern form of treatment that’s used to heal a variety of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, eating disorders and schizophrenia, to name but a few. Psychiatrists are thoroughly trained to assist patients in effectively managing these disorders in order to lead purposeful and happy lives. Read on to find out more about what psychiatry is and what it can do for you.

What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a form of medicine that is centered on identifying, treating and also preventing illnesses related to emotional, mental and behavioral health.

What makes psychiatrists unique is the fact that they are trained to assess and treat both the mental and physical aspects of a condition at the same time. Psychiatrists are trained to treat a variety of conditions from mild ones such as hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and panic attacks, all the way to chronic depression and extreme anxiety. It is also important for them to have good communication skills, compassion and empathy. This is so that they can understand the patient’s problems and develop a suitable treatment plan.

Why not check out our general psychiatry service page to find out more about how psychiatry can help you or your loved one.

When Did Psychiatry Begin?

In short, the term itself was coined in the 1800s, and was presented in the form of Prof. Johann Christian Reil seminal paper on the field. He combined the Greek words ‘psyche’, which refers to the mind or soul, and iatros, which means physician.

The History of Psychiatry

The practice of psychiatry dates back to the beginning of time. As mentioned, the term was officially coined in the 1800s.

Early human history shows us that mental disorders were regarded to as symptoms of possession by evil spirits and were often treated using supernatural modalities such as exorcism and sorcery. It wasn’t until the 8th century that perceptions started to change and the medieval Islamic world was the first to establish psychiatric hospitals. These were gradually developed and the 20th century saw the advent of using for the treatment of psychiatric conditions, taking into account the biological component as well.

Why Did It Take So Long for Mental Illnesses To Be Recognised?

For the longest time, mental illness has been associated with negative stereotypes and stigmatization. Over the years, patients with mental illness have had to endure having derogatory words thrown at them, being made to feel isolated and disempowered. What most people fail to understand is the fact that mental illness is not the end of the world, and that sufferers can go on to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Nevertheless, incorrect ideas about mental illness can be combated by increasing awareness and education among the masses on the realities of these conditions. A lot of advocacy groups have done much work in this regard and continue to work in changing the perceptions around mental illness. Their efforts along with those of dedicated mental health professionals, are slowly paying off because more people are starting to recognize that mental illness is biologically linked and fully manageable.

We still have a long way to go before the stigma behind mental illness is completely eliminated, but steady progress shows us that we’re well on our way.

How Can a Psychiatrist Help You?

A psychiatrist will first perform a comprehensive and conclusive examination of the patient’s condition and then use any of the various treatment modalities that they have available to them. These include psychotherapy, lifestyle transformation and psychopharmacology.


Depending on the condition, a psychiatrist might use psychotherapy as the first and most common form of treatment. Here, they will provide the patient with a supportive environment where they’re able to freely work through their problems and discover solutions together.

The psychiatrist first evaluates the patient’s illness and then treats the patient at an intensity level based on the patient’s symptoms, triggers and how often the patient visits. In this way, the psychiatrist functions very much like a doctor in developing the diagnosis and developing the plan of treatment. A good psychiatrist tries to help the patient to be more self-aware and able to make their own insights and discoveries about themselves.

Some types of Psychotherapy include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Interpersonal Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and more.


Here, the doctor is most likely to perform an evaluation of the patient’s disorder in order to determine the best course of medical treatment to prescribe. However, the psychiatrist does not force the medication onto the patient, but merely recommends and educates them about its benefits, so ultimately, it’s the patient’s decision whether or not to take it. But one can rest assured that doctors take a lot of factors into consideration before making the prescription, such as their medical history and the symptoms that need to be addressed.

Psychotherapy or Medication?

There’s a debate between both camps and there are also psychiatrists about try to incorporate both. It’s good to note that medications for depression, for example, can take up to 7 days to 14 days to start taking effect. From there, it can then take up to another 6 to 8 weeks to have its full effect.

This is why it is essential to combine other treatments together to create a more comprehensive and holistic treatment plan. The other treatments such as psychotherapy and lifestyle changes can help the patient greatly as a buffer of sorts before the medication takes effect.

Helping to Change Your Lifestyle and Behavior

A psychiatrist can help to evaluate a patient’s lifestyle and point out factors that can help the patient’s condition. For example, patients suffering from depression may often isolate themselves and tend to not pay much attention to their diet or engage in any physical activities like exercise.

A psychiatrist can help to evaluate these factors and develop a personalized plan. He will encourage the patient to take charge of these behaviors in order to help improve his or her condition.

Regardless of the condition that one may suffer from, there is a plethora of psychotherapy treatments available to manage and even eliminate it. All it takes is keeping an open mind and the willingness to overcome your condition.

Why not also read our article on how to break bad habits, helping you to change your life with positive action!