Psychiatric Disorders – an Overview
The psychiatric illnesses represent, collectively, a group of brain disorders characterized by behavioural and cognitive abnormalities and dysfunction. In marked contrast to other fields of medicine where diagnosis is based on pathophysiology or etiology, few psychiatric disorders have been defined based on pathophysiologic and etiologic considerations. Rather, psychiatric diagnoses or diseases are predominantly syndromes. Developments in the field of psychopharmacology over the last 60 years have provided considerable advances for pharmacologically based approaches, which are considered the foundation of treatment for most psychiatric disorders. As such, effective treatments for schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, the anxiety disorders and other debilitating psychiatric conditions are now available. While many patients may benefit from these treatments, others demonstrate only a partial response or may fail to respond altogether. Treatment response is also challenged by high rates of co-morbidity with other psychiatric and medical conditions and poor tolerability of available treatments, which impact treatment adherence. The complex nature of these disorders coupled with our limited understanding of the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of psychiatric illnesses present both challenges and opportunities for today's drug discoverers and developers.