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Psychopharmacology is the study of how drugs affect behavior. If a drug changes how you feel or think, the drug affects your brain and nervous system. Psychopharmacology allows insight into how the use of medications can help treat mental health disorders. There are many different types of medications out there to help with mental health disorders, and not every medication is suitable for everyone. Psychopharmacology includes trial and error to find what works best with your body. Discussing the different types of medication and how each one works to help ease the symptoms of mental health disorders can help you recognize the possibilities of psychopharmacology.

There is a stigma attached to medication for mental health disorders, but it is time for that stigma to end. It is time for healing. If you found out you had diabetes or had cancer, you would take the medication necessary to help heal you; it is no different with mental health disorders. Taking medication may just be the thing that enables you to heal.

What Happens With Psychopharmacology?

There are a few steps that will be necessary to go through with your doctor to receive these medications. First, you and your doctor will do an assessment; this is to assess your needs as a patient and reach a diagnosis. An assessment will consist of a patient interview that includes behavioral, social, medication, and medical history. There may also be a physical examination and bloodwork done to determine how your body will react with certain medications and make sure there are no underlying health problems before starting medications.

After an assessment, you will go through the intervention process. This process includes the practices of evidence-based psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, medication reconciliation, and prescription and substance abuse evaluation for drug-drug interactions. Next, you will go through the consultation process, which consists of consulting with healthcare team members, including social workers, psychologists, primary care providers, and psychiatric providers.

The next step is evaluation, which uses research to develop and evaluate medication practices based on the best available evidence. The last step of the psychopharmacology process is prescribing. A doctor will present medication choices that consider FDA regulatory status, new medications on the market, and pharmacogenomic considerations.

What Is Psychopharmacology Used to Treat?

Psychopharmacology can be used to help in the treatment of various mental health disorders. Some examples include:

  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Substance use disorder
  • Neurocognitive disorders

No matter what you may be struggling with, psychopharmacology may be a viable option for you.

How Many People Struggle With Mental Health?

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Survey on Drug Use and Health data found that in 2018, 47 million adults over age 18 reported a mental health disorder. This data translates to around one in five adults in the United States. More than 11 million reported severe mental illness.

What Types of Medications Exist?

While many different medications are used to treat various mental health disorders, there are only five main types of psychotropic medications. The first type is antidepressants used to treat depression. There are three main subtypes of antidepressants:

  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) steadily increase the amount of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin helps regulate mood, bowel movements, sleep, blood clotting, and more.
  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) slowly increase the amount of norepinephrine in your brain. Norepinephrine helps you feel awake and alert.
  • Bupropion promotes important brain activity and can treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or help people quit smoking.

The other four psychotropic medications include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications are used to treat a wide range of anxiety disorders. These medications typically use beta-blockers to help treat the physical symptoms of anxiety, including increased heartbeat, nausea, sweating, and more.
  • Stimulants help manage unorganized behavior by improving concentration and providing a calming effect. Stimulants are often prescribed for people with ADHD.
  • Antipsychotics help manage psychosis by allowing a person to think more clearly, feel calmer, sleep better, and communicate more effectively. Antipsychotics can be used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe forms of depression, and more.
  • Mood stabilizers help regulate extreme emotions. They are primarily used to treat bipolar disorder.

Ultimately, your medication depends on what you and your doctor decide is the best option for you during the initial assessment.

How Do Psychotropic Medications Work?

Mental health and well-being affect your daily life, and psychotropic medications can be an essential part of the tools available to help keep you well. These medications work by altering the number of chemicals in the brain to help improve symptoms. Each class of psychotropic medications works differently from one another, but they have some similarities, too. The type of medication a doctor prescribes will depend on your specific symptoms.

Psychopharmacology is the study of the use of medications in treating mental health disorders. These medications are called psychotropic medications. A psychotropic drug is any substance that alters your mood, and there are only five main types of psychotropic medications. Often, when someone seeks out professional help and receives medication to help them cope and relieve symptoms of their disorder, there is a sense of shame due to the terrible stigma surrounding getting help. We here at West Coast Recovery Centers want you to know that we understand and will never shame you for seeking help for yourself. Our goal is to connect you with a variety of traditional and non-traditional recovery methods to help you navigate your personal rehabilitation journey, and our support team is here to help every step of the way. If you would like to learn more about psychopharmacology and mental health, reach out to West Coast Recovery Centers at (760) 492-6509.

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