Psychiatry and
Behavioural Medicine

Behavioral medicine (BM) is a newly developing field of study which integrates behavioral, psychosocial, and biomedical concepts and practices to prevent, diagnose, and treat patients with psychosomatic disorders. The practice of BM targets the relation between how both thought and behavior can affect mental and physical health.

What is Behavioral Medicine?

Behavioral medicine is an interdisciplinary field that integrates behavioral, psychological, sociological, and biomedical science knowledge and techniques with the aim of better understanding and treating health and illness. The goals of behavioral medicine include comprehensive care that ranges from prevention of disease and promotion of health, better diagnosis and treatment of illness, and enhanced rehabilitation and recovery following disease. Given this broad focus, behavioral medicine operates across various levels examining factors associated with health and disease at the biological, individual, group, and societal levels (‘cells to society’). Moreover, behavioral medicine considers many factors or pathways of disease within each of these levels.

What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is an area of medicine involving the study, diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. A person’s mental health is influenced by a combination of factors that are both specific to an individual as well as related to interactions with society, community, and family. There are several components to mental well being including a healthy self esteem, communication skills and the development of resilience.

A psychiatrist is a physician who deals with the diagnosis, treatment, management and prevention of mental health and emotional problems.

Examples of the mental health problems psychiatrists deal with include bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, personality disorder, panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. They also handle drug and substance abuse, addiction and dependence.

Some of the subspecialties of psychiatry include:
  • Management of addiction and rehabilitation
  • Child and adolescent psychiatry
  • Geriatric psychiatry concerning elderly patients
  • Emergency psychiatry
  • Military psychiatry
  • Neuropsychiatry
  • Sleep specialists

For most psychiatric disorders, there are no laboratory tests to confirm the condition. Instead, a patient undergoes a series of psychological tests, although biochemical tests are also performed to check the patient’s physical health status.

Psychiatrists use several forms of treatment in managing mental health illness including psychotherapy, medications such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers and antidepressants. Psychotherapy may include cognitive behavior therapy, family therapy or group counselling. Hospitalization may also be needed in severe cases.