This specialty deals with the prevention, care, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of different forms of mental suffering, be they organic or functional, with severe psychological manifestations. Examples are depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia and anxiety disorders. Physicians specializing in psychiatry are generally referred to as psychiatrists (until the mid-twentieth century the term alienists was also common). The main goal is relief from suffering and psychological well-being. For this, it is necessary a complete evaluation of the patient, with biological, psychological and cultural perspectives, among other similar ones. A disease or psychic problem can be treated with different medications or therapies, such as psychotherapy, a practice with a long tradition in the treatment.
Psychiatric assessment involves examining mental status and clinical history. Psychological, neurological, neuropsychological tests and imaging tests can be used as aids in the assessment, as well as physical and laboratory tests.
Psychiatric drugs are an important part of the therapeutic arsenal, which is unique in Psychiatry, as well as more rarely used procedures, much criticized in the history of the psychiatric movement, such as electroconvulsive therapy. Psychotherapy is also part of the psychiatrist’s therapeutic arsenal, although it can also be used by other mental health professionals: Psychologists and Psychoanalysts. However, the psychotherapy tool is always useful for diagnostic interviews and guidance; to practice it the psychiatrist must do the complementary training. Psychiatric services can provide outpatient or inpatient care.