The Department of Psychiatry currently consists of a Professor, a Senior Lecturer, two Lecturers and an Administrative Assistant. All consultant psychiatrists in the region hold Honorary Senior Lecturer contracts. There are also several post-doctoral fellows, PhD and MD students working within the Department.
The major activities of the Department include teaching medical students and conducting research. The latter is centered in the Biosciences Institute and is largely focused on translational research into stress and the impact on psychiatric illness such as depression and irritable bowel syndrome. We now have a high quality facility with a wide array of molecular, biochemical and behavioural techniques, run by experienced technicians and several senior post-doctoral scientists. On the clinical side, we have a research psychiatrist, nurse and psychologist.
Our principal sources of research funding over the past five years have been from Science Foundation Ireland through the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, Enterprise Ireland through Food for Health Ireland and the Health Research Board. We have also had a major collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant GSK.
Psychiatry is that branch of medicine which deals with disturbances in psychological function. Such disturbances may be gross and clearly pathological, such as not knowing where you are (disorientation), hearing voices (hallucination), or believing one is being persecuted from outer space (delusions) or extreme variants of normal experience; such as feeling so miserable that life has no meaning and worrying so much that your sleep is fitful, your concentration impaired, and your ability to work seriously compromised.
The practice of Psychiatry is also much concerned with the psychological and social antecedents and consequences of illness. It deals with such questions as why did the patient develop his or her symptoms at this particular point in time; and what are the factors in his or her personal life which contributed to these symptoms. Similarly psychiatrists are involved in the psychological, social and family consequences of illness, whether this is a reflection of the clear-cut disturbance in brain function (as after a brain injury), or whether it is the understandable concern the patient may have regarding his or her future as a consequence of being ill.