Psychiatrists are healthcare professionals that diagnose and treat mental disorders and conditions. They work in different settings, including universities, government agencies, mental health clinics, private practices, and specialized hospitals.
Mental health professionals specialize in different areas and work as organizational, geriatric, forensic, child, adult, and addiction psychiatrists. The latter treat patients with substance abuse and drug abuse problems and addictions. Adult psychiatrists diagnose and treat patients with mental health problems such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, schizophrenia, body dysmorphic disorder.
In Canada, psychiatrists have a medical degree, residency training, and a license to practice in their territory or province. Residency training covers components in different fields, including psychiatry, emergency medicine, neurology, family medicine, and pediatrics. Different universities in Canada offer programs and degrees, including the University of Montreal, University of British Columbia, McGill University, University of Toronto. The University of British Columbia, for example, offers a host of different programs such as the schizophrenia program, developmental disorders program, reproductive mental health program, and cross cultural psychiatry program. Depending on the program and focus area, courses cover a wealth of topics and issues, including narcissism, personality disorders, mental health and depression. The University of Toronto is the home to a number of specialized divisions, among which the Division of Brain and Therapeutics, Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, and Division of Child and Youth Mental Health. The university offers training, courses and lectures, and research opportunities to research and clinical fellows, residents, and students in medicine. Clinical services are offered to patients in community psychogeriatric services, day hospital and outpatient services, and inpatient settings. The Department of Psychiatry at the McGill University offers an undergraduate and a graduate program (PhD and MSc degrees), subspecialty programs, and a resident program. Prospective students can choose from three subspecialty programs – Clinical Pharmacology and Toxicology, Geriatric Psychiatry, and Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
The median salary of professionals in this field is at around $176,800 a year, and the pay ranges from around $61,990 to $311,900, depending on skills, years of experience, specialty area, location, and other factors.
There are different sources of funding for students in medicine, including bursaries and scholarships, grants, government-sponsored loans, loans by credit unions and banks. A number of scholarships are available to students in psychiatry programs, including the Rudelle Hall Graduate Scholarship, Daniel Lupin Memorial Scholarship. A government-sponsored student loan is one alternative for students who need additional financing. Student loans come with floating and fixed rates and are offered to applicants who demonstrate financial need. Part-time and full-time students are eligible to apply provided that they are residents or Canadian citizens. Provincial and territorial loans are also available under different programs, including the Ontario Student Assistance Program, NWT Student Financial Assistance, Manitoba Student Aid. Depending on the province or territory, students are offered financial assistance in the form of school or tuition loans, bursaries, scholarships, and other funding opportunities. Those who demonstrate financial need may qualify for a grant under the Canada Student Grants Program.
Private providers such as banks and credit unions also offer borrowing solutions that are tailored to the needs of students. Many big Canadian banks offer student lines of credit, including TD Bank, Bank of Montreal, RBC, and others. Lines of credit come with flexible limits and interest-only payments until graduation. Banks feature competitive interest rates and flexible terms to help students cover living expenses, books and textbooks, and tuition costs. Many banks and unions also offer student credit cards with low interest rates, cash back and rewards points on purchases, low or no annual fees, insurance packages, and other perks. Holders benefit from loyalty programs, discounts on student-related items and products, access to exclusive events, and sign-up bonuses in the form of free movies or points.
Mental or psychotic disorders can be tricky to diagnose because some of the symptoms overlap. They cause abnormal and distorted perceptions, and patients are unable to think clearly. About 10 percent of Canadians over the age of 15 have experienced symptoms associated with substance abuse disorders and mental conditions, including alcohol dependence, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and depressive episodes.
With some disorders such as schizophrenia, there is genetic predisposition while certain factors act as environmental triggers. In general, mental conditions are triggered by illness, alcohol and drug abuse, stressful episodes, hormonal changes, and head injury.
Common mental health conditions include delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizophreniform disorder, and paraphrenia. Schizophrenia, for example, comes in different forms, including childhood, hebephrenic or disorganized, and paranoid schizophrenia. Warning signs and symptoms are strange and inappropriate behaviors, angry or over-emotional responses, poor work performance and difficulty concentrating, and delusions. Bipolar disorder is a mental condition characterized by euphoria, episodes of extreme optimism, fatigue and depression, and mania. Some patients are at risk of hurting others or themselves, and it is important to keep medications, knives, and other potentially dangerous items away. Patients with delusional disorder have distorted perceptions of reality and experience hallucinations. There are different types such as somatic, precursory, jealous, and grandiose. Persons with schizophreniform disorder also experience psychotic episodes and cannot tell the difference between reality and dreams and fantasy. Common symptoms include poor hygiene, hallucinations and delusions, and strange, bizarre, and repetitive behaviors such as constant writing and pacing. Paraphrenia is also a mental condition that is characterized with periods of hallucinations and delusions, including olfactory, tactile, visual, and auditory hallucinations. This condition usually affects elderly persons near or over the age of 60. Between 2 and 4 percent of elderly people develop paraphrenia. Symptoms and warning signs include delusions that are hypochondriacal or grandiose in nature, pseudo-hallucinations, and megalomania. There are 5 types – confabulatory, hallucinatory, systematized, expansive, and manic paraphrenia, the last two being nonspecific forms. Psychiatric literature also describes other types such as late, presenile, involuntary, and depressive.
The type of treatment depends on the condition and may include antipsychotic drugs, social support, psychological or cognitive behavioral therapy, self-help groups, and community support programs. Medical professionals also recommend family therapy and supportive psychotherapy. Psychiatrists prescribe different antipsychotic drugs, depending on the symptoms, disorder, and severity. Such medications are ziprasidone, risperidone, quetiapine, olanzapine, lurasidone. In general, medications decrease delusions and hallucinations and help patients to behave rationally and think more clearly. Some patients experience side effects such as back pain, drowsiness, stomach pain, dizziness, nausea, and constipation. Common side effects include muscle spasms, dry mouth, and blurred vision.
Psychiatrists and psychotherapists often recommend community support programs with a focus on social support and financial stability to help patients recover and take care of themselves. Early diagnosis improves the chances of treatment. In most cases, patients with psychotic disorders recover and live meaningful lives with the appropriate treatment and medications.