Causes and Symptoms (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Physicians who practiced many centuries ago understood that psychiatric disorders such as depression and delirium arose from brain abnormalities. Because the recognition of mental illness came early in its development, medicine has had a profound influence in establishing the biomedical model to define and treat psychiatric disorders. This early medical influence was deepened and broadened by the contribution of neuroscience. Scientists who began studying the brain more intensively, beginning in the late nineteenth century, proved the relationship of brain function to speech, hearing, comprehension, and other important human abilities. Later, the psychodynamic model of understanding the nature of psychiatric disorders began making its contribution, first by promoting the more humane treatment of people with mental illness and then in adding consideration of psychological and social factors when diagnosing patients. Sigmund Freud and other influential psychiatrists broadened the understanding of how emotional pain and trauma experienced during a person’s childhood can contribute profoundly to the occurrence and course of mental disorders.
Despite long and exacting efforts to understand mental illness, much remains to be explored. While psychiatrists would prefer to base their diagnoses on knowing the causes and the mechanisms of mental disorders, this knowledge has proved to be elusive. Therefore, most psychiatric...
(The entire section is 1046 words.)
Treatment and Therapy (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Making an accurate diagnosis of psychiatric disorders is essential to treating problems properly, since many can be improved through the application of drug, psychosocial, somatic, and adjunctive therapies. For example, it is said that most people who suffer from major depression can be treated successfully with a course of medication, brief psychotherapy, or a combination of both. The somatic technique of exposing a person each day to a bank of bright lights (light therapy) has been used successfully to treat seasonal affective disorder (depression associated with a specific season, especially winter). Many depressed people and their families have been helped by the adjunctive therapy of participating in a support group.
The use of laboratory tests to clarify psychiatric diagnosis is growing in importance. Only a few disorders can be revealed by laboratory tests, but research is being conducted to validate such testing and to increase its scope and usefulness. Some tests are done routinely to rule out medical problems that may be causing the psychiatric problems the person is experiencing or to ensure that the patient can take needed medication.
Drugs have been used in the United States to treat psychiatric disorders since the early 1950’s, and new medications are introduced frequently. The distressing thought disturbances experienced by people suffering from schizophrenia have been treated with antipsychotic...
(The entire section is 1102 words.)
Perspective and Prospects (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
Early medical documents show that mental illness has always been an area of significant concern. Symptoms of mental illness were described in the Bible, and they were studied and treated in classical times. Interest in understanding mental disorders waned during the medieval period, when it was thought that sufferers were possessed by demons or were being punished by God. Mentally ill people were often maltreated and were sometimes burned as witches. Finally, the foundation was laid in the late sixteenth century for a more complete understanding of psychiatric disorders: In 1586, Timothy Bright, a physician, published the first English-language text on mental illness, entitled Treatise of Melancholie.
In late eighteenth century France, Philippe Pinel took over the management of a hospital for insane men and not only advocated more humane treatment of mentally ill people but also took steps to free them from the chains and other punishing devices that they were forced to endure. Pinel instituted the scientific study of mental illness. He tracked the prevalence of mental disorders, conducted studies to learn the natural course of mental illness, and established a treatment model followed by the more progressive psychiatric facilities. Physicians who specialized in the treatment and study of mental illness came to call themselves psychiatrists, and psychiatry became one of the first disciplines in medicine to...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
For Further Information: (Magill’s Medical Guide, Sixth Edition)
AllPsych Online. Psychiatric Disorders. http://allpsych .com/disorders. A site that covers fifty-four adult psychiatric disorders and eight personality disorders, including etiology, symptoms, treatment options, and prognosis.
American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-IV-TR. 4th ed. Arlington, Va.: Author, 2000. The bible of the psychiatric community, this is a compendium of descriptions of disorders and diagnostic criteria widely embraced by clinicians. Included is an extensive glossary of technical terms, making this volume easy to understand.
Andreasen, Nancy C., and Donald W. Black. Introductory Textbook of Psychiatry. 4th ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Press, 2006. Designed for use by medical and other students, this book provides basic information on psychiatry, various psychiatric disorders, treatments, and special topics such as suicide, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and disorders of childhood and adolescence.
Goodwin, Donald W., and Samuel B. Guze. Psychiatric Diagnosis. 5th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996. Each chapter in this concise reference is devoted to a separate category of psychiatric disorder. The chapters contain information on prevalence, symptoms, history and nature of the illness, common complications, and treatment methods.
Heston, Leonard L....
(The entire section is 534 words.)