Part 1 — Why do psychiatrists need to study other aspects of medicine – anatomy, the digestive system, the urinary system, etc?


I don’t remember who made this comment but I thought it would make for a good post topic. I won’t give an in depth medical school explanation of what the various disease and conditions are. What I’m listing is by no means complete. They are just some of the reasons why psychiatrists need to have a medical background.

“By the way – there’s absolutely no need to respond to my 1-31-2009 comment. I do have another question though – why do psychiatrists need to study other aspects of medicine – anatomy, the digestive system, the urinary system etc? Does a knowledge of how the body works – and malfunctions – physically, have much bearing on the work of a psychiatrist? I’m just curious – please don’t bother to reply unless you feel like it. Other readers of your blog might enlighten me.”

A psychiatrist is a physician who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses and substance use disorders. He or she must graduate from college and then medical school, and go on to complete four years of residency training in the field of psychiatry. (Many psychiatrists undergo additional training so that they can further specialize in such areas as child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, psychopharmacology, and/or psychoanalysis.) This extensive medical training enables the psychiatrist to understand the body’s functions and the complex relationship between emotional illness and other medical illnesses. The psychiatrist is thus the mental health professional and physician best qualified to distinguish between physical and psychological causes of both mental and physical distress.” Psychiatrists’ medical background, training and experience allow them – under state licensing laws – to prescribe medication, and order and interpret medical tests. These procedures are essential for the appropriate diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, just as they are for all other medical illnesses. Psychiatrists are also uniquely qualified to approach care and treatment from a therapeutic, as well as a medical, foundation.

  1. Many physical disorders can cause psychiatric symptoms similar to those characterizing mental disorders.
  2. There are exterior natural factors, like medication (therapeutic or illegal) and other chemical substances that can too cause psychiatric symptoms. (covered in Part 2)
  3. The physical diseases related to the manifestation of psychiatric symptoms can be separated in brain disorders and general or systematic disorders even though in reality these two categories overlap.

General diseases with psychiatric symptoms

  • Diseases from vitamins deficiency and excessive vitamin intake (pellagra, deficiency B1, deficiency B12, low vitamin A and D, along with many others)
  • Endocrine disorders (Cushing’s syndrome, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroïdism, Addison’s disease, pheochromocytoma , hyperparathyroidism, hypoparathyroidism, hypopituitarism)
  • Drugs and toxic substances
  • Infections (Syphilis, Malta fever, glandular fever, HIV infection and others)
  • Metabolism disorders (hepatic insufficiency, electrolyte disorders, uremia, acute intermittent porphyria, multiple sclerosis

psychiatric-symptomsIn Part 2, I will discuss in more detail several psychiatric symptoms of physical disorders such as brain disorders, schizophrenic symptoms, anxiety, depression, sexual dysfunction and mania. I’ll also give a list of some common prescription and over the counter medications which can cause or exaggerate psychiatric symptoms.


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3 Responses

  1. Dear David,

    I am very happy to hear that Pam will fill in once in a while. We feel as if both of you are friends, and certainly want to keep up with you, and family.

    Thank you Pam.

    Love a lot,

  2. This is a very interesting post! I look forward to the next one. I for one, had no idea that the diseases you listed could have psychiatric symptoms!

    Thank you for educating me and giving me something new to research!

  3. […] is Part 2 of the post Why do psychiatrists need to study other aspects of medicine – anatomy, the digestive system, the ur… As I mentioned before, I won’t give an in depth medical school explanation of what the various […]

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