Psychiatry is a branch of medical sciences that deals with disorders related to mood, emotions, thought processes, perception and physical as well as psychological consequences of stress, addiction, lifestyle malfunction, relationship issues, interpersonal issues, work related issues, attention and memory related problems, psychosexual problems, burnout and exhaustion.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor trained in basic medical specialties as part of MBBS curriculum in India with a specialist post graduate qualification ( MD/ DNB or Diploma in psychiatric medicine) in Psychiatry from an approved Medical Institute. A psychiatrist, like any other clinical specialist like a physician or a surgeon is educated in biological functions of human body, medicines and their use and interactions and other clinically integrated branches of medical sciences.
Although psychiatry and psychology deal with mental health issues, the interventions are at different levels.
Psychiatry is a medical specialty and a psychiatrist is trained in medical as well as psychological aspects of higher brain functions like mood, emotions and behaviours. A psychiatrist is equipped to clinically diagnose a psychiatric disorder, explore it's causation from biological as well as psychosocial perspective, identify treatment modalities and educate regarding treatment duration and prognosis. Other than prescribing medicine, a psychiatrist may be your psychotherapist or counsellor depending upon treatment plan.
Psychology is a non medical stream for study of human thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours and various theories related to same. After a basic course in normal human psychology, a psychologist may pursue clinical or applied psychology for understanding abnormal psychology and psychological tests and treatments.
Psychiatrists and Psychologists work in an integrated manner for holistic treatment of mental health issues.
Anyone dealing with issues related to mood, emotions, thought processes, abnormal experiences, stress, anxiety, memory/concentration, relationships, confidence, self esteem, sexual problems etc can visit a psychiatrist for examination. Visiting a psychiatrist doesn't make one 'crazy' or 'insane' and doesn't ensure treatment with medicines or other media generated grotesque techniques. It's mostly a simple one to one interaction between doctor-patient under a confidentiality agreement so that an issue may be explored and treatment options discussed.
All psychiatric medicines are not sedating. Sedatives are but one type of psychotropic medicines. Some other class of medicines may have sedating side-effect and others may be activating. Your psychiatrist will explain the relevant side effects a precautions.
Only a few classes of psychotropic medicines have addictive potential and if prescribed, your psychiatrist will warn you about them. Psychiatric treatment is usually safe under supervision and the treating doctor ensures that medicines are given for the required duration and necessary tests are done regularly to monitor any potential side effects.
The treatment duration of any medical illness depends upon the cause and prognosis of a condition. While infective conditions are cured with the removal of infective agents, disorders like hypertension and diabetes are due to internal physiochemical processes and thus treatment is life long.
Psychiatric disorders occur due to the interaction of biological, psychological and environmental factors. The biological factors are prominent in endogenous illnesses like schizophrenia, Bipolar Affective Disorders, OCD etc and therefore the vulnerability lasts throughout life.
Based on one's clinical history, the doctor plans the type of medicine and it's dose and duration. For first episode of anxiety/ depression/ panic, the usual maintenance phase is 6 months of asymptomatic period, after which medicines can be gradually tapered. But treatment may need to continue longer depending on severity and frequency of episodes. To take any decision to change medication or stop them, several factors have to be taken in account for which regular follow up with one's psychiatrist is important.
No, psychiatric management is not aimed at inhibiting normal feelings and reactions. The goal of psychiatric management is to restore normal functioning with minimum side effects. The treatment protocols recommend that benefits of medicines should outweigh the side effects.
Most of us reach out for help only when we can't handle a situation by ourselves. It's important to understand that there is nothing wrong in seeking help and guidance. It takes more courage to reach out than to hide behind a mask of courage. Accepting one's problems makes it easier to deal with them especially when a neutral person ( a psychiatrist or a psychotherapist) gives a non critical environment to explore the issue.
Just because there is an overt cause or situation leading to anxiety or depression, doesn't mean one shouldn't do anything about it, similarly if there doesn't seem to be an apparent reason again doesn't mean one should ignore it. The goal is understand the suffering in order to get rid of it.