Psychiatry and Medicine Books and Articles

Also see the bibliography section on Psychobiology and Psychopharmacology for related information, or the Medications Centre at for details on many of the drugs most commonly prescribed for mental health reasons.

Psychiatry and Medicine

APA (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV-TR. (Fourth Edition, Text Revision.) Washington: American Psychiatric Association.

This relatively minor text revision of the 1994 DSM-IV is the current 'bible' of psychiatry, used to classify mental disorders in the US. The DSM provides a diagnostic classification based on diagnostic criteria indicating which symptoms (or subset of possible symptoms) must be present and for how long, together with a descriptive text for each diagnostic category. The next major revision, DSM-V, is not due until 2010.

APA (2002) Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: Compendium 2000. Washington: American Psychiatric Association.

For counsellors and psychotherapists who want to be aware of the medical context of clients who are also receiving psychiatric treatment, this is the primary reference book for the US; contains 11 separate guidelines.

Bazire, S. and S. Branch (2002) Your Medicines -- Any Questions?. Norwich: Pharmacy Services to Norfolk Mental Health Care NHS Trust. [available online]

This is one of the most accessible guides available to psychiatric medication. The website includes a superset of the information provided in the hard copy version, which is updated roughly every 6 months. Like BMA (2002), counsellors and psychotherapists should avail themselves of this resource to make themselves aware of possible side effects of medications which may have been prescribed for their clients.

Beers, M.H.; R. Berkow and M. Burs, eds. (1999) The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. Whitehouse Station, New Jersey: Merck Research Laboratories. [available online]

This giant volume is the most widely used medical text in the world. The section on psychiatric disorders won't replace the DSM, but for a quick check of facts, it is often handier.

Bhui, K.; S. Weich and K. Lloyd (1997) Pocket Psychiatry. London: W.B. Saunders.

Aimed at trainees in psychiatry as well as general medical practitioners and accident & emergency room staff, this little 'quick reference' follows a problem-focused approach to psychiatric emergencies and offers very succinct explanations which will probably be most useful for those who already have some medical knowledge. It will be useful to counsellors for its quick overviews and its description of the overall context including medical practice and hospital settings, working in the community, and liaison psychiatry. The book includes descriptions of specific conditions and specific therapeutics. Note that Saunders also publishes other volumes of a similar type which may be easier to track down.

BMA (2002) British National Formulary, 44. London: British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. [available online]

Published every six months, in September and March (volume 44 is September 2002), the BNF is the primary pharmaceutical reference used throughout the UK. Regardless of theoretical orientation or particular views about the 'medical model' of psychological distress, in my view every counsellor and psychotherapist in the UK should have a copy of the BNF so they can inform themselves about possible side effects of medications which may have been prescribed for their clients. Also see Bazire and Branch (2002).

Daines, B.; L. Gask and T. Usherwood (1997) Medical and Psychiatric Issues for Counsellors. London: Sage.

If a counsellor could only buy one book on medical and psychiatric issues as they relate to the practice of counselling, I believe this should be it. In my view, every counsellor and psychotherapist should inform themselves to at least a basic degree about the broader medical and psychiatric issues which may impact upon their clients' lives and well-being, and this book provides the best start I know for doing exactly that. It obviously won't answer every question which might arise in the therapeutic setting, and its discussion of specific medical and psychiatric conditions is necessarily brief, but the book provides an excellent grounding to assist the counsellor or therapist in identifying areas where help should be sought and where well-informed judgement on the part of the counsellor may make a significant difference to the health and well-being of the client.

Greider, K. (2003) The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off American Consumers. New York: PublicAffairs.

This popular media-style expose uncovers how the pharmaceutical industry systematically exploits consumers in the largest prescription drug market in the world and discusses how profits in this, the single most profitable of industry sectors, are ploughed back not just into more drug research (much of which is actually paid for by the US government) but into extensive marketing campaigns that increasingly obscure the ideals of evidence-based medical practice.

Murray, C.J.L. and A.D. Lopez, eds. (1996) The Global Burden of Disease: A Comprehensive Assessment of Mortality and Disability from Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors in 1990 and Projected to 2020. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

This massive volume represents the results of an unprecedented epidemiological study of 150 major health conditions. The GBD makes the first systematic attempt to incorporate disability and not just death and introduces a key indicator called the 'DALY', or disability-adjusted life-year. The study indicates, among other things, that mental disorders rank close to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in terms of impact and in fact suprass all malignancies combined, as well as HIV. See Üstün and Chatterji (2001) for evidence the GBD estimates may in fact be significantly too low.

Offer, D. and D.X. Freeman, eds. (1972) Modern Psychiatry and Clinical Research. New York: Basic Books.


This page was last reviewed by Dr Greg Mulhauser, Thursday, 3 November 2022.