Scope Of Psychiatry

 “Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.”

-Carl Jung

Ok, so we have established that this blog will deal with Psychiatric Illnesses. But, “what is Psychiatry?” you ask. Psychiatry is a broad field that includes many illnesses. Some you are likely aware of while others you may not have realized fall under the realm of Psychiatry.

Psychiatric Illnesses- More Than Meets The Eye

The scope of Psychiatry includes:

Emotional Disturbances

1) Minor emotional disturbances that are normative reactions to environmental and psychosocial stressors. Examples include bereavement of a loved one or increased anxiety after a terror attack.


2) Emotional reactions directly related to traumatic events, but that exceed the expected norm. This occurs in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Reactive Attachment Disorder.


Perceptual Changes

3) Changes in perception of the world around us such as in Major Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. This can be a symptom of the illness or a cause of it.


Personality Disorders

4) Disturbances of personality causing a pervasive influence on behavior and negatively affecting a person’s life or those of their contacts. Examples include Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder.


Cognitive and Behavioral Changes Brought About By Identifiable Precipitants

5) Addictive disorders that cause identifiable changes in personality and have a harmful impact on a person’s functioning. These can be due to misuse of substances or dependence on actions such as gambling.


6) Neurocognitive diseases that cause cognitive or behavioral changes. Examples include Alzheimer’s, Delirium and Parkinson’s Disease.


Somatic Disorders

7) Physical complaints such as abdominal pain or seizures with no identifiable medical cause despite a thorough workup.


Neurodevelopmental Disorders

8) Disorders characterized by impairments in personal, social, academic or occupational functioning. These usually first manifest in early development. Examples include Autism Spectrum Disorder, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.


Dissociative Disorders

10) Dissociative Disorders occur when there is a disruption in the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, emotions and perceptions. The classic example is what was formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.


Eating And Elimination Disorders

10) Eating Disorders are characterized by unhealthy thoughts and behaviors involving food. Anorexia Nervosa and Binge Eating Disorder are examples.


11) In Elimination Disorders bodily waste is held in or discharged at inappropriate times. This is often diagnosed in children during stressful transitions in their lives.


Sleep Disorders

12) Sleep Disorders occur when too much or too little sleep is obtained. They are caused by a variety of factors such as Narcolepsy, Circadian Rhythm Disorders and Nightmare Disorder.


Sexual Disorders

13) Sexual Dysfunction related to unconscious psychological or sociocultural factors.


14) Gender Dysphoria is diagnosed when a person is unhappy with the gender assigned to them at birth. They may dress like the opposite sex or seek reassignment surgery.


15) Paraphilic Disorders include abnormal sexual interests that often violate other’s rights. Examples include Pedophilic Disorder and Voyeurism.


Impulse Control Disorders

16) Difficulties in self control of emotion and behaviors. This is seen in Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Kleptomania and Pyromania.


Bet you didn’t know Psychiatry was such a broad field! All these examples fall under the purview of Psychiatry and most of us know someone with one of these illnesses. In future posts, I will attempt to write articles about each of them. I will present the current knowledge of these diseases and the most evidence based treatments for them.


Were you surprised to learn that any of these conditions are psychiatric? Were there any illnesses that you had never hears about before? What other ailments might a person see a Psychiatrist for? Please share your questions and comments below.

Ariel Mintz, MD
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