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Psychiatry (mental health) is a medical speciality concerned with the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research of mental illness. Within psychiatry, specialists focus on addiction (addictology), elderly patients (geriatric psychiatry) and people in need of mental rehabilitation (psychiatric rehabilitation). The assessment of pathological mental state (criminal trials) and insight (civil trials – e.g. guardianship) is the responsibility of a forensic mental health specialist.

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Psychiatrist or psychologist?

A psychiatrist is a doctor who diagnoses mental illnesses and treats them with medication. A common part of the diagnosis is brain imaging and laboratory tests. A psychologist is a philosopher, whose job is to help diagnose mental disorders and to better understand psychological processes. They often assists the psychiatrist by taking psychological tests. A psychotherapist is usually a psychiatrist or psychologist who provides long-term therapy through discussion and therapy sessions. Drug therapy may be given or recommended by a psychiatrist. Psychotherapy is provided by a psychotherapist. The psychiatrist, the psychologist and the psychotherapist work closely together as a therapeutic team to help the patient to recover.

What complaints and disorders should we turn to a psychiatrist with?

Psychiatric illness can have a myriad of symptoms. What they have in common is that they cause psychological distress and functional impairment to the patient and/or those around them. Many physical illnesses also lead to mental disorders or symptoms. It is important to rule these out or, if they persist, to treat them before seeking specialist psychiatric care. The following disorders are worth seeking the help of a psychiatrist:

  • neurodevelopmental disorders (e.g. intellectual disability, tic)
  • schizophrenia, paranoia, transient psychotic disorders
  • bipolar disorder
  • depression
  • anxiety disorders (e.g. panic disorder, phobias, generalised anxiety disorder)
  • compulsions (e.g. body image disturbance, hoarding, skin and hair picking)
  • trauma (e.g. crisis, post-traumatic stress)
  • dissociations (e.g. identity disorder, memory loss)
  • somatizations
  • eating disorders (e.g. anorexia and bulimia nervosa, overeating)
  • sleep disorders
  • sexual act disorders (e.g. erectile dysfunction)
  • sexual intercourse disorders
  • impulsivity, aggressiveness
  • neurocognitive disorders (e.g. dementia, brain injury)
  • personality disorders
  • sexual desire disorders (e.g. fetishism)

The course of the psychiatric examination

The first psychiatric examination consists of an interview during which the patient shares his or her complaints with the doctor. The psychiatrist will assess the patient’s psychological state. If necessary, a psychologist is consulted to clarify the diagnosis. If a physical illness is suspected or ruled out, the psychiatrist will order brain imaging and/or routine laboratory tests and seek the opinion of another specialist (e.g. neurologist).

What treatment options are available at Medicover's psychiatric clinic?

Once the diagnosis has been made, the psychiatrist will suggest therapeutic options, from which the patient can choose the most suitable. Based on the indications and the patient’s choice, a therapeutic plan is drawn up, which, depending on the disorder, basically consists of medication and/or psychotherapy. Unfortunately, psychotherapy is not currently available in our institution. Depending on the course of the illness, further follow-up examinations may be necessary. Psychiatrists cannot carry out fitness tests or issue licences, but their opinion will assist the decision of the medical specialist (e.g. occupational physician) who is authorised to issue the licence.

Psychiatry - Medicover

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