July 23, 2024

The Future of Psychiatry

Psychiatric illnesses are generally difficult to diagnose. It is usually not like the flu. The psychiatrist cannot swab the patient’s brain, wait fifteen to twenty minutes, and expect a positive or negative result that dictates a specific diagnoses. It is much more complicated and subjective than that. Preventative care is also difficult to provide. It is impossible to know what chemical imbalances could manifest in a patient’s brain before it actually happens. It is impossible to know ahead of time what life events might trigger a depressive episode in a patient or cause a patient to develop post traumatic stress disorder later on in their life. One common way that a patient will end up in a psychiatric office seeking care is that they will begin to experience symptoms, a loved one might notice and insist that they get help, or the patient themselves will realize that something is wrong, and the patient will make an appointment to be seen by a mental health professional. Once they enter the examination room and the psychiatrist goes to see them, the psychiatrist will ask the patient what their symptoms are and consult with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5). Based on how many symptoms can be checked off, the psychiatrist will attempt to provide the most accurate diagnosis.

This seems pretty straight forward. However, mental illnesses are extremely complex. Many of these illnesses have similar symptoms in common. Sometimes the DSM–5 is not that easy to navigate and there is plenty of room for error and misdiagnoses. The recent and ongoing intervention of technology in the field of psychiatry aims to improve our overall understanding of the brain and the illnesses that afflict psychiatric patients (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). One current available vision about the future in relation to psychiatry is the implementation of automated speech analysis programs (ASAPs) (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). A recent study demonstrated that ASAPs are 100% accurate at identifying whether an at-risk young person will develop psychosis within the next two years (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). In this study, the ASAP analyzed participants’ narrative by specifically focusing on semantics, structure, coherence, phrase length, and determiner words (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). The limit to this study is that it only had a sample size of thirty four participants between the ages of fourteen and twenty seven (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). However, if the experimental methods applied in this study yield the same results amongst a much larger sample size, ASAPs could become a clinical tool in psychiatry (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). ASAPs have the potential to efficiently and quickly identify speech abnormalities even in the most subtle form (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). The implementation of ASAPs in psychiatry would decrease the overall subjectivity involved in the prognosis and diagnosis of mental illnesses, and would increase the chances of detecting early symptoms, reaching a diagnosis, and developing a treatment plan before a patient’s condition worsens (Sayar & Cetin, 2015). ASAPs are just one way that technology can be incorporated into the clinical setting. In the future, technology will not only facilitate the prevention of misdiagnoses in psychiatry but it will also enhance the ability to predict the risk of developing some mental disorders in patients (Sayar & Cetin, 2015).

References

Sayar, G. H., & Cetin, M. (2015, December 01). A Futuristic Approach to Psychiatric Diagnosis [Editorial]. Klinik Psikofarmakoloji Bülteni-Bulletin of Clinical  Psychopharmacology, 25(4), 321-434.

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