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Although the cause of most psychiatric disorders is unknown, one thing that is clear is that the best way to prevent and treat these disorders is through carrying out clinical and basic research.
Just last month, a new study published online in The Lancet Psychiatry found that psychosocial treatment can help prevent people from committing suicide, while psychiatrists at Cambridge University discovered that hip-hop therapy can help people who are depressed or mentally ill.
Dr Sarah Kennedy, an experienced psychiatrist who specialises in gender dysphoria (transgender) and liaison psychiatry at YourGP, explains how new evidence helps improve her ability to treat patients at our private medical practice in Edinburgh.
She says: “I’m extremely interested in what is being studied and researched as treatments for various mental health disorders right now.
“There is a real focus on evidence based medicine at the moment with standard pathways of care.
“Most evidence has typically focused on drug treatments or psychological treatments, rather than looking at a mixture of approaches tailored to that patient’s individual needs.”
As Dr Kennedy explains, learning from patients has been one of the best ways to improve her ability to treat psychiatric disorders.
“Taking into account people’s first-hand experience of living with a mental disorder is an essential part of understanding how we, as professionals, can do better,” she says.
“What I believe is lacking from research is on what should guide our choice of best treatment in individual cases.
“Many patients share very similar symptoms but very few respond in a similar way to the same management or treatment.
“Psychiatry is often as much an art as it is a science, which is part of the reason I love my job as much as I do.”
Dr Kennedy, who has worked in a wide variety of mental health services across Lothian and the Scottish Borders, is better placed than most to examine what the future holds for psychiatry in the UK.
She explains: “I think the future of psychiatric services in the UK must respect the individuality of patients as people.
“I hope that the trend for standardising care and use of pathways reflects that in the future.”
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