Positive psychiatry: its time has come.
Traditionally, psychiatry has been defined and practiced as a branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. Based on growing empirical evidence, we believe that this definition warrants expansion to include the concept of positive psychiatry. In the present article, we provide a critical overview of this emerging field and a select review of relevant scientific literature. Positive psychiatry may be defined as the science and practice of psychiatry that seeks to understand and promote well-being through assessment and interventions involving positivepsychosocial characteristics (PPCs) in people who suffer from or are at high risk of developing mental or physical illnesses. It can also benefit nonclinical populations. Positive psychiatry has 4 main components: (1) positive mental health outcomes (eg, well-being), (2) PPCs that comprise psychological traits (resilience, optimism, personal mastery and coping self-efficacy, social engagement, spirituality and religiosity, and wisdom-including compassion) and environmental factors (family dynamics, social support, and other environmental determinants of overall health), (3) biology of positive psychiatry constructs, and (4) positive psychiatry interventions including preventive ones. There are promising empirical data to suggest that positive traits may be improved through psychosocial and biological interventions. As a branch of medicine rooted in biology, psychiatry, especially with the proposed conceptualization of positive psychiatry, is well poised to provide major contributions to the positive mental health movement, thereby impacting the overall health care of the population.
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