Pharmacology and Mental Illness

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Pharmacology is commonly used to deal with mental health disorders. There are benefits and disadvantages in using medications to treat mental health disorders and there is a lot of controversy surrounding this subject. Although pharmacology can be an effective form of treatment for some situations, it is not always the perfect solution for every case. It is important to be informed and educated about all aspects of a medication before beginning one. In order for a medication to be effective it must be the right medication for the person, and the right dosage. There can also be very harmful side effects from the medication and very harmful interactions. Pharmacology can be a good way to reduce symptoms, but is not a cure, and can be daunting to face the possibility of having to take a pill everyday for the rest of one's life.

Psychotropic medications are drugs prescribed to stabilize or improve mood, mental status, or behavior. In other words, they are medications used to modify emotions or behavior. These medications are sometimes called "psychiatric medications" or "psychoactive medications." Psychotropic medications can be grouped or classified in different ways; by chemical structure, how they work in the brain, how they are most commonly used in treatment, or their therapeutic action. Therapeutic action grouping is most commonly used by service providers and families. Common groups are; antidepressants, anti-anxiety, mood stabilizers, and antipsychotics or neuroleptics. Other important groups classified by their action in the bran are; stimulants, beta blockers, and opiate blockers.

Antipsychotic Medications are used to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. Some examples are people who are out of touch with reality. They may hear voices, or have strange or untrue ideas. Other symptoms include getting excited or angry for no apparent reason, or spend a lot of time off by ones self, or in bed, sleeping during the day and staying awake at night as well as, neglecting appearance, not bathing or changing clothes, and may become difficult to communicate with saying things that make no sense, or barely talking at all. These medications can reduce psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations.

Mood stabilizers are used for people with manic-depressive illness and help to reduce the mood swings associated with it. They can also be known as anti-manic medications. An example is Bipolar disorder. This has severe highs (manic) and lows (depression). When someone is in a manic swing, the may be overactive, over talkative, and have a lot of energy. They often can make irrational decisions. Depression will show in a "low" mood, lack of energy, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, sadness, worthlessness, and guilt, and sometimes thoughts of suicide. Lithium is the medication used most often to deal with the mood swings. Lithium evens out mood swings in both directions, so it is also used as an ongoing treatment of bipolar disorder. It can reduce the symptoms in about 5 to 14 days but it can take months for the condition to be under control. Antipsychotic medications can be used in the first days of treatment to control some symptoms until the lithium takes effect. For some people they may only have one episode of bipolar disorder, or be symptom free for several years, for others it can be a continuing cycle, and continuing lithium is a consideration.

Antidepressants are used for people who are depressed. Everyone can feel sad from time to time, but in order for a person to have the kind of depression that can benefit from mediation, it needs to be a prolonged condition, lasting two or more weeks, and it has to interfere with the person's ability to completed daily tasks, and enjoy actives that they at one time enjoyed. They can also have trouble eating a lose weight, or eat more and gain weight, sleep too much or too little, feel guilty,...
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