Choosing your specialty: Psychiatry

Psychiatry is a specialty that focuses around treating patients with mental illnesses, as well as dealing with the interaction between physical and mental health problems. A Psychiatrist is still a medically qualified doctor, and will require six years of specialist training before you can qualify.

You may be called upon to treat patients with the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar affective disorder
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Dementia
  • Drug and alcohol abuse

psychiatry image

Most psychiatric diagnoses are made on the basis of a full history, with information on the mental state of the patient, as well as a physical examination.

Managing mental illnesses could involve a combination of methods, including:

  • Medication
  • Psychological counselling
  • Improving home environments and social networks
  • Physical treatment (such as electroconvulsive therapy)

Psychiatrists work in a number of different settings including both psychiatric and general hospitals, in the community, residential centres, nursing homes and in prisons.  Psychiatrists also work with a number of different professionals as part of a team that might include clinical psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, and occupational therapists.

Psychiatry specialities include:

  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • General Adult Psychiatry (including Addictions Psychiatry, Liaison Psychiatry and Rehabilitation Psychiatry)
  • Medical Psychotherapy
  • Old Age Psychiatry
  •  Psychiatry of Learning Disability