The Science Behind Medications

Many mental health illnesses are cause by a chemical imbalance in a person’s brain. For this reason, they cannot be treated with psychotherapy or changes in diet and lifestyle alone, nor do they go away with time. In such cases it’s essential to see a psychiatrist, to get proper evaluation and to have medications prescribed.

A chemical imbalance occurs when brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are deficient. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine are major factors in regulating mood, concentration, energy, focus and sleep. An improper balance of these chemicals can result in depression, concentration problems and more. By taking psychiatric medication, a person can restore the brain’s natural chemical balance.

A psychiatric medication is a licensed psychoactive drug designed to modify the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system. Only psychiatrists can prescribe psychoactive medication, and only after complex and thorough evaluation. The effectiveness of these medications is very high, and many patients find that the benefits far outweigh the risks or side effects.

Read here how the FDA evaluates drugs >>

Quick facts about psychiatric medications:

  • Most chemical compounds’ effects on the brain were discovered accidentally, and later studied for psychiatric use.
  • Medications are developed by pharmaceutical companies.
  • They are manufactured mostly from synthetic chemical compounds.
  • A medication must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after a testing process demonstrating it to be safe and effective.
  • The process of clinical experimentation, development, testing phases, clinical trials and multiple approval stages takes years per drug.
  • One medication can be approved for the treatment of several psychiatric conditions.
  • A psychiatric illness can require more than one medication to manage the symptoms.
  • All psychiatric medications have potential side effects.
  • Alcohol and recreational drugs can dangerously interfere with psychiatric medications.
  • Medication can take as little as six hours or as long as six weeks to work, depending on the medication and illness.
  • Taking psychiatric drugs recreationally or after self-diagnosing is very dangerous.
  • Psychiatric medications sold online are mostly counterfeit, i.e. fake.
  • Sharing medications prescribed to you with someone else is illegal.
  • Many psychiatric medications have a significantly less expensive generic alternative
  • Success in development of psychiatric medication has tremendously lowered cost of psychiatric care and reduced the need for psychiatric inpatient stays.

There are 6 groups of psychiatric medications:

  1. Antidepressants, which treat disparate disorders such as clinical depression, dysthymia, anxiety, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder;
  2. Stimulants, which treat disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy;
  3. Antipsychotics, which treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms occurring in the context of other disorders such as mood disorders;
  4. Mood stabilizers, which treat bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder;
  5. Anxiolytics, which treat anxiety disorders;
  6. Depressants, which are used as hypnotics, sedatives, and anesthetics.

During your treatment, Dr. Umugbe will be able to find the best medication (if any) for your condition. The sooner the medication is prescribed, the greater the chances are of treating the illness and reducing damage to your life. Everyone responds to medication treatment differently; furthermore, drug interactions can interfere with a medication’s effectiveness. Thus it is important to disclose to your doctor any problems or adverse side effects you encounter, as well as all other medications and supplements you are taking. Together we can find the optimum medication regimen for your illness!

Read more about medication regimen here >>

Read frequently asked questions about medications here >>

Download and read the educational booklet “Mental Health Medications”, provided by National Institute of Mental Health   Download Now

Read FAQ about the FDA approval process here >>