What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is the branch of medicine which is concerned with the understanding, assessment, diagnosis and treatment of  disorders of the mind. These disorders can involve emotions, behaviour, perceptions and cognition ( thinking).  Psychiatry is one of the most varied, interesting and rewarding specialties in medicine. Every day can be different and every patient seen is unique. Psychiatrists work in a number of different places including hospitals, people's own homes, residential centres, old people's homes and even in prisons.  

What do psychiatrists do?

Psychiatrists are doctors who look after patients with mental health problems. They assess patients, make diagnoses, they may investigate medical problems, offer advice, and recommend different treatments including medication, counselling or other life style interventions. Treatment of patients with mental health problems depends on a wide range of professionals including psychiatric nurses, social workers, clinical psychologists , psychotherapists and occupational therapists. The psychiatrist works together with these professionals as part of a team. Psychiatrists also are involved in teaching, audit and research. 

What is the day-to-day work like for psychiatrists?

The day to day work varies between the many psychiatry specialties. These specialties include General Adult Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychiatry of Old Age, Learning Disability Psychiatry, Addiction Psychiatry, Social & Rehabilitation Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Liaison Psychiatry. The work also varies between different work settings, such as General Hospitals, Psychiatric Hospitals and various community locations. 

Specialist areas within Psychiatry

Psychiatry has many speciailitist areas as listed above and explained on the psychiatry specialties page. In the College of Psychiatry of Ireland each specialty is represented by a faculty which is usually run by an executive committee. Some faculties may have larger member committees and workgroups for specific tasks such as carrying out research or writing policy papers.

 How do you become a psychiatrist? See also Frequently Asked Questions

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