Since my Psychiatry rotation is only 4 weeks, I decided to devise a study plan to better prepare for the exam I have to take at the end of this rotation. Although not all of you are in a psych rotation at the moment, the following tips I am going to share with you should help regardless of the exam you are studying for!
Psychology is highly dependent on the notorious DSM-V criteria which is basically the standard way of describing mental disorders among ALL healthcare professionals. Think of it as math, regardless of what language we use, 2+2=4. Let me give you an example, as a society we correlate depression with sadness. Don’t get me wrong, “feeling sad” is definitely one of the criteria to diagnose depression, but it is not the only one. Certain other criteria must be met for a healthcare provider to make that diagnosis. Knowing the DSM-V can definitely help on the wards and on exams but I wouldn’t spend time memorizing them. There are really fun acronyms for depression and manic disorders that have stuck with me. I challenge you to research them and comment below with what you find!
Another important way to study for Psychology is to remember timelines. Timing is EVERYTHING for examination and diagnostic purposes. For example just knowing how long a patient has been experiencing certain symptoms can determine the difference between schizophrenia, schizoaffective, and schizophreniform . What I found helpful was drawing out a big timeline on a piece of paper and placing various disorders just to have a general picture of their timing and symptoms.
Lastly, I find that having fun with studying helps facts stick better. The personality disorders in psychology are my favorite to learn about because of how interesting each one is. I would draw a little cartoon that depicted each personality type next to the personality to help make associations. Watching videos of patients suffering from illnesses or even taking notes when speaking to your own patients can help make important connections in your brain as well!
I hope that you find these tips helpful for studying psychology and even other class as well.