Psychiatry is a field of medicine specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of thinking, feeling and/or behavior.
The initial psychiatric evaluation provides a comprehensive assessment to evaluate the current problem with attention to biological, psychological, and social factors. Sometimes additional information is needed from other sources, such as a medical work-up (laboratory tests, EKG, EEG, brain imaging, etc.) or psychological testing. Following the evaluation, a diagnosis is formulated and the psychiatrist works with the patient and the family on developing a treatment plan.
Psychiatrists use an integrated approach to treatment, which may include psychotherapy, medication, and consultation with other clinicians or professionals from schools, courts or other organizations.
Medications can be an effective part of the treatment for several psychiatric disorders. The psychiatrist will fully explain the benefits and risks of medications and other treatment alternatives. Psychotherapy is often used in combination with medications for more effective treatment. Psychiatric medications should be used as part of a comprehensive plan of treatment and require regular monitoring for outcome and adverse events.
Psychiatrists collaborate with the patient, the family, and other clinicians to coordinate care. The length of treatment depends on the complexity and severity of problems.
For additional information, please refer to
- The American Psychiatric Association (www.psych.org)
- The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (www.aacap.org)
- Manal Assi, M.D.
- Sonya Lewis, M.D., M.P.H.