What is the future of psychiatric research? What trends will affect the practice of psychiatry in the next decade and beyond? New developments from the field of clinical research in psychiatry hold the answers.
Diagnosis will come earlier. With new methods of identifying individuals at high risk for mood disorders or psychosis, new approaches in psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy will seek to delay the onset of mental illness.
Genetics will play a role. Psychiatric geneticists are steadily identifying specific genes that are a factor in psychiatric disorders. These discoveries will yield treatment methods using pharmacotherapeutics that do not just control symptoms but modify diseases.
There will be a new focus on the role of neuroplasticity. Methods of reversing neuroplastic changes will aid in the repair of the brain itself. These methods will replenish neurons, neutralize the buildup of cell-damaging free radicals with antioxidants, rebuild the white matter of the brain, and even inhibit tumor necrosis.
Deep-brain stimulation (DBS), used for treating neurologic disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, will yield rewards in the treatment of psychiatric disorders as well.
Patients will be screened for pharmacogenetics-the influence of genetics on the body’s response to drugs. Patients who are “treatment-resistant” and don’t metabolize drugs well may stop using prescribed medicines. Drug treatments will be customized for each patient’s tolerance based on his or her genetic profile.
The relationship of physical and mental disorders will come into sharper focus. New ways will be found to combine physical and mental treatments for patients with conditions such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension that may affect their psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia, depression and anxiety, and bipolar disorder. The ideal treatment practice will be a collaboration between psychiatric professionals and family physicians, integrating their methods for the overall health of the patient.
The aggressive pursuit of new treatments and new approaches will bring benefits in the maintenance of sound minds and sound bodies. The future looks healthy.