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New Book from APA Publishing Examines a New Path Forward for Treating Mental Illness: Precision Psychiatry

  • October 28, 2021

Washington, D.C., Oct. 29, 2021 – Although currently available treatments can be effective at improving patients' quality of life and mitigating the burden of symptoms of mental disorders, finding the right treatment for an individual can be a long and fraught process. A recently released book from APA Publishing, “Precision Psychiatry,” presents a new path forward for connecting patients with the exact treatments they need, sooner, through emerging advances in the field.

Precision psychiatry, as defined by the book, involves integrating findings from basic and clinical neuroscience, clinical practice, and population-level data. Researchers then seek to develop treatment approaches tailored for individuals with a specific set of health issues, characteristics, strengths, and symptoms. Precision psychiatry complements but does not replace clinical expertise.

Editors Leanne M. Williams, Ph.D., and Laura M. Hack, M.D., Ph.D., both with Stanford University, engaged more than three dozen contributors in diverse areas of expertise, including neuroimaging, electrophysiology, neurocognition, behavioral science, machine learning, and pharmacotherapy, to examine the current state of precision medicine in psychiatry and explore future areas of advancement.

The authors present the latest research in precise classification, treatment planning, and early identification across a spectrum of psychiatric disorders. They lay the foundation for a future where one-size-fits-all treatments are replaced by modalities optimized for individual patients across all stages of a disorder. Numerous case examples illustrate and apply the principles of precision psychiatry to mood and anxiety disorders and schizophrenia in adult patients. They highlight the push to develop biomarkers and algorithms that will identify subtypes of patients that may be underserved by conventional therapies.

“The advances showcased in this book offer measurement-based solutions, tools and hope to clinicians, patients, researchers and families alike. With these tools and advances, getting treatments right the first time becomes a reality, limiting the need for a ‘trial and error’ approach that can take months or years,” said Williams. “By integrating this evolving knowledge in one book, it offers a resource for psychiatrists and allied mental health care providers who will lead the future for precision psychiatry,” Williams added. “Just as importantly, with this toolkit we can change the narrative around psychiatric disorders from one of blame and stigma to one of understanding and measurement-based care.”

The book’s 14 chapters are divided into six sections:

  1. Neuroimaging of Circuits
  2. Neurocognition, Neurophysiology, and Behavior
  3. Blood Markers
  4. Translational Neurobiological Approaches
  5. New Approaches and Computational Models That Bridge Neuroscience Insights and Clinical Application
  6. Developing the Academic Discipline of Precision Psychiatry

Leanne M. Williams, Ph.D., is professor and associate chair of Translational Neuroscience and director of the Precision Psychiatry and Translational Neuroscience Lab (PanLab) in the Stanford Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; director of the Stanford Center for Precision Mental Health and Wellness at Stanford University School of Medicine; and director of Precision Medicine at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Sierra-Pacific MIRECC, California.

Laura M. Hack, M.D., Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow, Advanced Fellowship in Mental Illness Research and Treatment, in the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Sierra-Pacific MIRECC; and clinical instructor and director of the Translational Precision Mental Health Clinic in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine in Stanford, California.

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,400 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA's vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit

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