Psychiatry: An under-explored and often misunderstood domain
Neal Kasbe
Psychiatry: An under-explored and often misunderstood domain
Psychiatry has been around for decades now. Sadly though, not only laypersons but even some clinicians have a vague understanding of this intriguing subject.

In our country, the masses still think of psychiatrists as being doctors of "insane" or "mad" people. The reality is that we are simply doctors of ordinary people, like you and I, who may be going through turmoil in life, resulting in changes in their behaviour.

Even Aristotle said, "No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness."

Another common misunderstanding is about what we do as psychiatrists. It is often misunderstood that we either only counsel and make patients better, or prescribe heavy medicines which make you groggy constantly. The truth is, just as in any other speciality, we see various domains and try to manange them, whether through counselling, medication, or a blend of both. Medications may cause side effects when patients continue to take them without a psychiatrist's prescription; otherwise, in the right doses, everything is suitable. Needless to say, when even a simple medication like paracetamol can cause side-effects in some cases.

The third most common misconception that exists, even in the minds of some doctors, is the difference (or lack thereof) between a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists are doctors who, post-MBBS, either pursue a Masters or a Diploma in Psychiatry. They are equipped to prescribe medication as well as take care of other basic health-related issues. On the other hand, a psychologist is a professional from the Arts domain who has spent years doing a Bachelors or Masters in Psychology. Some of them may even go on to do an M.Phil or PhD. They usually help psychiatrists by administering psychological tests, and even counselling (therapy).

So the next time you reconsider seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist for the fear that they only see mad people, rethink. Psychiatrists see patients with depression, mood disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, sexual problems, marriage-related problems, children with behavioural or academic problems, chronic pain, psychosis (schizophrenia), stress management, life adjustment problems, and more and even sometimes provide life coaching. The list is endless.

Always remember, there is no health without mental wellness. A fit body is ruled by a fit mind.
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