Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders. These include various affective, behavioural, cognitive and perceptual abnormalities.
Initial psychiatric assessment of a person typically begins with a case history and mental status examination. Psychological tests and physical examinations may be conducted, including on occasion the use of neuroimaging or other neurophysiological techniques.
Though the medical specialty of psychiatry uses research in the field of neuroscience, psychology, medicine, biology, biochemistry, and pharmacology, it has generally been considered a middle ground between neurology and psychology. Unlike other physicians and neurologists, psychiatrists specialize in the doctor–patient relationship and are trained to varying extents in the use of psychotherapy and other therapeutic communication techniques.
Psychiatrists also differ from psychologists in that they are physicians and have post-graduate training called residency (usually 4 to 5 years) is in psychiatry; their graduate medical training is identical to all other physicians. Psychiatrists can therefore counsel patients, prescribe medication, order laboratory tests, order neuroimaging, and conduct physical examinations.