Psychiatry- Specialty And Sub-Specialty Information

April 8, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Psychiatry- Specialty & Sub-Specialty Information


A psychiatrist specialises in diagnosing, preventing and treating the entire spectrum of mental, emotional, behavioural and addictive disorders. These include but are not limited to:

Anxiety disorders

Mood disorders

Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders

Sexual and gender identity disorders

Substance-related disorders


Adjustment disorders

Psychiatrists work with individuals as well as families who are going through stressful or crisis situations or coping badly with any problems that they are facing.  Psychiatrists undergo training in the psychological, biological and social aspects of mental disorders and generally use a holistic approach in treating their patients. These specialists need to use their entire base of knowledge and values when treating and assisting their patients.

Subspecialties of Psychiatry

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Addiction Psychiatry

Geriatric Psychiatry

Forensic Psychiatry

Psychosomatic medicine

Shadow doctors delivering twins! Child and Adolescent Psychiatry –Psychiatrists who train in this sub-specialty focus on disorders that appear in childhood, including but not limited to ADHD, autism and other developmental disorders, learning disabilities, mood and anxiety disorders, mental retardation and conduct disorder or delinquency. Child and adolescent psychiatrists typically employ psychosocial interventions, including individual, group and family psychotherapies in treating patients under their care. In addition, they often have to consult with several other professionals including other physicians, schools, social service agencies, juvenile courts and any other authority figure that their patient would have interacted with.

Addiction Psychiatry – This sub-specialty deals with the assessment and treatment of individuals dealing with drug, alcohol or other substance-related dependency or addiction. An addiction psychiatrist would also treat individuals with the dual diagnosis of substance-related and other psychiatric disorders.

Geriatric Psychiatry – A geriatric psychiatrist is trained in the assessment, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of mental and emotional disorders in the elderly. These specialists seek to improve the psychiatric care of the elderly both in health and in sickness.

Forensic Psychiatry – Forensic psychiatry deals on the interrelationships between psychiatry and criminal, administrative and civil law. A forensic psychiatrist evaluates individuals involved with the legal system and provides specialised treatment to those incarcerated in prisons or forensic psychiatry hospitals.

Psychosomatic Medicine – Psychosomatic medicine is a subspecialty that involves the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders and symptoms in patients with complex medical conditions. Psychiatrists who specialise in psychosomatic medicine treat patients suffering from acute or chronic medical, neurological, surgical or obstetrical illness in which their psychiatric illness is affecting their medical care and/or quality of life. Common illnesses that spur this condition include heart disease, HIV infection, stroke, cancer, COPD, organ transplantation, high-risk pregnancy, traumatic brain injury and renal failure among others. These specialists often provide consultation-liaison services in hospitals and provide collaborative care in primary care and other outpatient settings.

Sleep medicine – Sleep medicine is a subspecialty that involves having expertise in diagnosing and managing sleep-related clinical conditions. Physicians trained in this subspecialty focus on clinical evaluation, polysomnographic assessment and treatment of sleep disorders including insomnias, sleep related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea, disorders of excessive sleepiness such as narcolepsy, sleep related movement disorders, circadian rhythm disorders, parasomnias and other conditions pertaining to the sleep-wake cycle.