Psychiatric disorders are debilitating diseases, affecting > 80 million people worldwide. There are no causal cures for psychiatric disorders and available therapies only treat the symptoms. The etiology of psychiatric disorders is unknown, although it has been speculated to be a combination of environmental, stress and genetic factors. One of the neurotransmitter systems implicated in the biology of psychiatric disorders is the purinergic system. In this review, we performed a comprehensive search of the literature about the role and function of the purinergic system in the development and predisposition to psychiatric disorders, with a focus on depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, anxiety and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. We also describe how therapeutics used for psychiatric disorders act on the purinergic system.