Psychiatry is in need of a paradigm shift.
While scientific research has brought our understanding as to the complex interplay of biologic, genetic, and environmental factors that together create the dynamic continuum of human thought and behavior to an unprecedented level, psychiatry’s application of this knowledge lags far behind that of other medical disciplines, and the treatment of mental illness remains a substantial challenge. Over the last few decades, the number of patients with psychiatric disorders and neurologic disease has skyrocketed, causing a surge of medical burden that psychiatry as a field seems increasingly ill-equipped to address.
The broadening gap between incidence and rates of treatment success mirrors that which separates scientific discovery and clinical practice. Mental illnesses are being treated according to etiologic and therapeutic models that have changed little over the last half-century. Patients with unique symptomatic presentations are being tucked into diagnostic categories derived from consensus and statistical average, and offered treatment geared primarily towards symptom management that does not account for biologic individuality.
Over-reliance upon pharmaceutical interventions is rampant, driven by a multitude of factors including convenience and assumption – assumption that an intervention effective for one patient will most likely be effective for another. Epidemiologic data demonstrates in no uncertain terms that this model is not adequate. While medical disciplines proactively pursue methodologic refinement through ongoing scientific discovery, psychiatry seems held to a standstill by outdated approaches and incomplete therapeutic models.