What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a medical specialty involving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental, emotional and behavioural disorders. One in five people will experience a mental illness at some stage in their lives.

A mental illness or disorder is a diagnosable illness that significantly interferes with an individual's cognitive, emotional or social abilities. Mental illness can have a devastating effect on the lives of an individual’s and their families and in some cases, may even be life threatening.

There are many different types of disorders, which occur to varying degrees of severity. Mental illnesses and disorders include:

  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Dementia
  • Learning difficulties
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Substance Abuse
  • Specific Phobias (e.g. fear of flying or of heights)
  • Eating Disorders
  • Personality Disorders
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Specialist fields in psychiatry include general adult psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, eating disorders, old age psychiatry (psychogeriatrics), substance dependence, forensic psychiatry, consultation-liaison psychiatry (psychiatry in the medically unwell) and neuropsychiatry.