Medical science and psychology have a close relationship. Psychological knowledge supports physicians in treating psycho-physiological problems such as gastric ulcers, asthma, and migraine headaches.

In today’s world, doctors agree that most physical illnesses are caused by psychological disorders and are hence psycho­physiological in character.

We can’t understand or treat a disorder unless we recognize and treat patients’ emotional conflicts. Psychological assistance and therapy are essential for patients to face their physical difficulties and recover from their sickness.

Similarly, understanding specific physical disorders and how physiological organs work improves psychologists’ understanding of human behavior.

Why is Psychology Crucial for Medicine?

So, what role does psychology have in medicine? It is a question that needs extensive debate, which may be due to the distinction between psychologists and psychiatrists.

Psychiatrists are medical professionals who have completed medical school and frequently practice in a hospital setting, as the suffix “-try” relates to medical therapy. On the other hand, psychologists lack the same level of education and frequently work in clinics or small practices. Unlike doctors and psychiatrists, psychologists are unable to prescribe medicines (in most jurisdictions). As a result, we take them as “less serious.”

The medical establishment’s negative perceptions of psychology have previously impeded the development of critical psychological training. However, medical schools are increasingly acknowledging the relevance of psychological training for future medical practitioners.

In primary care, psychologists provide essential mental and behavioral health services. They detect and change behaviors to improve people’s health and well-being throughout their lives. In both the public and commercial sectors, many psychologists (e.g., in health, clinical, counseling, family, and rehabilitation psychology and geropsychology) provide interprofessional, team-based treatment in pediatric, adult, and family-oriented primary care settings.

Psychology Applications

One crucial topic for all types of medical practitioners is doctor-patient communication: handling the delivery of potentially life-changing medical knowledge appropriately. Understanding a patient’s psychology can provide critical insights into the best reasons and tactics for promoting positive health, even in low-stakes scenarios. It is a part of bedside manner, and it’s an underappreciated aspect of the profession. 

Medicine requires excellent communication abilities, and understanding psychology can significantly aid in developing this capacity.

Psychology's Relevance in Medicine

As experts in human behavior, psychologists work individually and as part of integrated, interprofessional teams to serve a barrier against disease and enhance the health and wellness of people throughout their lives. Psychologists identify behaviors that promote healthy lifestyles, functional ability, treatment adherence, and habits that contribute to disease. 

Psychologists provide early intervention and wellness services, such as behavioral health assessment and treatment, to help people develop the skills they need to prevent and effectively manage physical and mental health problems and a variety of mental and behavioral health and substance use disorders.

In both the public and private sectors, many psychologists (e.g., in health, clinical, counseling, family, and rehabilitation psychology and geropsychology) provide interprofessional, team-based care in pediatric, adult, and older adult and family-oriented health care settings.

Psychologists efficiently identify and treat mental and behavioral health problems (e.g., depression, suicide risk, anxiety disorders, and addiction) that can co-occur with physical health illnesses in combined health care settings. Psychologists can also assist in the distinction of normal processes from pathology, drug side effects, adjustment reactions, pain, insomnia, or a combination of these issues:

1. Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is present in about 5.2 million Americans, and the figure is expected to quadruple by 2050. Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease require increasing degrees of care and support as the disease develops, resulting in increased disability and healthcare expenditures and lost productivity for both the diseased and caregivers. When this illness has detected early, it helps avoid unnecessary costs and treatment and improves shared decision-making. In the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, neuropsychological tests outperform other indicators (such as imaging and biochemical assays).

How Can Psychologists Help?

The most effective technique to identify dementia from regular age-related cognitive changes and those due to depression and other mental problems is to use cognitive testing and neuropsychological examination by psychologists with specific training and expertise.

2. Cancer in Children

Invasive cancer affects at least 12,000 children under 15 in the United States each year. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most frequent type of leukemia, with 2,400 cases each year.

How Can Psychologists Help?

According to the American Psychological Association’s Center for Psychology and Health, psychosocial services for children with cancer and their families are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics at the time of diagnosis.

Early diagnosis and psychological assistance with distressed families help the child cancer patient’s long-term psychological, social, and academic functioning and the rest of the family.

Psychologists can help children with cancer and their families detect adjustment issues, provide effective psychological therapy for depression, anxiety, and PTSS, and promote practical problem-solving throughout treatment and beyond.

3. Depression and Heart Disease

Following a heart attack, 40% of patients feel depressed and are more likely to experience another heart attack.

The negative consequences of depression on stress hormones, blood sugar, “bad” cholesterol, blood pressure, inflammation, and sleep directly affect heart function.

How Can Psychologists Help?

Heart Disease and Depression, according to the American Psychological Association’s Center for Psychology and Health, are increasing rapidly.

Psychotherapy successfully treats depression in primary care patients, and it can save money by lowering overall medical costs. According to a recent meta-analysis, collaborative primary care approaches in which mental health experts give psychotherapy help reduce depression in a wide range of patients.

A major study found that brief psychotherapy combined with antidepressant medication for sad individuals after a heart attack is beneficial in lowering depression, re-hospitalization, and medical costs.

Conclusion

Medical psychology adds a human dimension to patient care, elevating the patient, doctor, and their mutual interaction above all subjectivity. Psychology-assisted medicine has become contemporary medicine, and doctors ‘ activities have become essential in light of the established relevance of personality and relationships in human health and disease. If you have any concerns about your physical or mental health, consult a Psychiatrist.

FAQs

1. How does psychology contribute to medicine?

Psychologists provide important mental and behavioral health services in primary care, identifying and changing behaviors to improve people’s health and well-being throughout their lives.

2. What role does psychology have in health?

In a study, positive psychological well-being plays a significant role in lowering the incidence of heart attacks and strokes. On the other side, poor mental health can lead to poor physical health or dangerous habits. Chronic illnesses last for a long time, and many chronic conditions have been linked to depression.

3. What is the significance of psychology in nursing?

As a nurse, you are responsible for your patient’s total health and physical well-being. You can provide emotional and mental support to your patients while also establishing a foundation of trust by employing basic psychological principles. It is especially significant when patients deal with a serious or long-term illness.

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