Psychosomatic medicine, also known as consult-liaison psychiatry, is an exciting subspecialty of psychiatry that focuses on the care of patients with comorbid psychiatric and general medical conditions. Psychosomatic medicine deals with the understanding and advancement of medical science, education, and the provision of healthcare for medically ill patients.
Clinicians in psychosomatic medicine often work in primary care and outpatient specialty clinics (such as diabetes or women’s clinics) and have key roles in developing population-based collaborative care models for the over 10 million patients with comorbid chronic illness. Examples of the patients treated include:
- treatment of delirium tremens in an elderly woman with unsuspected alcohol dependence who just received coronary artery bypass surgery;
- consultation to an outpatient HIV/AIDS clinic to help manage psychotropic medications for a patient about to begin a new antiretroviral regimen;
- inpatient consultation to the Oncology Service for a depressed middle-aged man with newly diagnosed, widespread pancreatic cancer.
Psychosomatic medicine provides the opportunity to work more closely with medical and surgical colleagues than is typically the case for most psychiatrists. It is also a great way to make a big difference in the lives of patients with complicated medical or surgical conditions who are suffering emotionally.