The South African Society of Psychiatrists (SASOP) Treatment Guidelines for Psychiatric Disorders have been developed in order to address the local need for guidelines in our unique clinical setting. The need for treatment guidelines has frequently been expressed by South African psychiatrists and other medical practitioners, as well as by other role players such as medical scheme and other funding body advisors and the pharmaceutical industry. While several well-developed international treatment guidelines are readily accessible and are indeed extensively utilised in South Africa, they are not always applicable to our own circumstances. There are often important differences, not only regarding the availability of various psychotropic medications, but also in healthcare settings and availability of resources that need to be considered when selecting particular medications. For example, prescribing compounds that require regular monitoring such as lithium and clozapine may not always be feasible in certain rural settings in South Africa.