Who is a psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental disorders. Psychiatric care involves a comprehensive evaluation of emotional and physical health and the formulation/implementation of an individualized treatment plan, which may include medication, psychotherapy (‘talk therapy’) or other modalities. Psychiatrists help patients to understand the illness and to learn what they can do to resolve life problems that contribute to the illness. This may involve issues on the job, in school or within the family and community.

Can people with mental illness work?

Yes. People with mental illness do work.  Work is a vital part of rehabilitation.   It improves self esteem and helps re-integrate people back into their communities.

What are the warning signs of psychiatric illness?

A person with one or more of the following symptoms should be evaluated by a psychiatrist as soon as possible:

  • Marked personality change
  • Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
  • Strange ideas
  • Excessive worries
  • Prolonged depression and apathy
  • Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Extreme highs and lows
  • Abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • Excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior

A person who is thinking or talking about suicide or homicide should seek help immediately.

Are all people with mental illness mentally retarded?

Mental retardation is a developmental disorder and is totally different from mental illness.  Mental illness has to do with abnormal behavior, thoughts and problems regulating one’s emotions.

Are all people with mental illness violent?

No. Some may be but treatment significantly reduces the risk of violence.

Is jail an appropriate place for all people with mental illness ?

No. For all intents and purposes these people require treatment not punishment.

What is psychosis?

The term psychosis refers to loss of touch with reality; the person has abnormal experiences such as hearing voices of people who don’t exist.  The person may have beliefs of being followed or a false sense of self-importance.

Do people ever recover from a psychotic illness?

Some people with psychosis do recover completely while others have residual symptoms and lead productive lives.  Others however do not recover significantly to function normally.

Is mental illness contagious?

No. one cannot get mental illness because of maintaining close contact with another individual.

Is mental illness caused by evil spirits or witchcraft?

No. Several studies have attributed the causes of mental illnesses with biochemical imbalance in the brain.  Mental illnesses do run in families.