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Introduction

Psychiatry is the medical specialty devoted to diagnosing, preventing, and treating mental disorders. These include various maladaptations related to mood, behavior, cognition, and perceptions. See glossary of psychiatry.

Psychiatric assessment of a person typically begins with a case history and mental status examination. Physical examinations and psychological tests may be conducted. Neuroimaging or other neurophysiological techniques may also be used. Mental disorders are often diagnosed under clinical concepts listed in diagnostic manuals. The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) is edited and used by the World Health Organization (WHO). The widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The fifth edition of the DSM (DSM-5) was published in 2013. It included more up-to-date research and re-organized the larger categories of various diseases.

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Core structure of the benzodiazepines
A benzodiazepine /ˌbɛnzdˈæzɪpn/ (sometimes colloquially "benzo"; often abbreviated "BZD") is a psychoactive drug whose core chemical structure is the fusion of a benzene ring and a diazepine ring. The first such drug, chlordiazepoxide (Librium), was discovered accidentally by Leo Sternbach in 1955, and made available in 1960 by Hoffmann–La Roche, which has also marketed the benzodiazepine diazepam (Valium) since 1963.

Benzodiazepines enhance the effect of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) at the GABAA receptor, resulting in sedative, hypnotic (sleep-inducing), anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), anticonvulsant, and muscle relaxant properties; also seen in the applied pharmacology of high doses of many shorter-acting benzodiazepines are amnesic-dissociative actions. These properties make benzodiazepines useful in treating anxiety, insomnia, agitation, seizures, muscle spasms, alcohol withdrawal and as a premedication for medical or dental procedures. Benzodiazepines are categorized as either short-, intermediate-, or long-acting. Short- and intermediate-acting benzodiazepines are preferred for the treatment of insomnia; longer-acting benzodiazepines are recommended for the treatment of anxiety. (Full article...)

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Shellshock2.jpg
Australian soldiers near Ypres in 1917, during World War I. Soldier on left is likely suffering from shellshock, now described as Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
image credit: public domain

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