Medicines used in Psychiatric disorders :

Medicines play a very important role in treating severe psychiatric disorders. In milder cases psychotherapy is advised, however in some cases apart from medicines and psychotherapy, other modalities like 'brain stimulation' may also be advised.

The right management plan is decided based on severity of illness, person's individual needs and under the supervision of a mental health professional.

Below is the basic information about the medicines used in mental health conditions.

  • Anti- depressants

Uses - Depression, Anxiety, Panic attacks, PTSD, Chronic pain

Types - Selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressants. Examples : Escitalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline etc.

Serotonin and nor-epinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRIs) : Venlafaxine, Duloxetine etc.

Bupropion is another medicine, which is used very frequently. It is also useful in smoking cessation.

Response - Antidepressants start working only after 2 weeks of starting the medicine. It has to be taken regularly for improvement.

It is important to know that due to some unknown reasons, some people respond to one type of antidepressant while others respond to different class of antidepressant. So, if you are not feeling better with the first Anti-depressant prescribed, please inform your psychiatrist so that a different medicine can be tried.

Side- effects - Nausea, Weight gain, Diarrhea, Sleepiness,Sexual problems are most common side-effects of Anti-depressants.

Contact Your Psychiatrist Immediately - Suicidal thoughts, Relapse of depression or anxiety symptoms, decreased sleep, if you are feeling very happy (more than usual) and energetic just after starting an antidepressant(switch to mania), if you are feeling very agitated and restless.

  • Anti- anxiety medicines

There are mainly three types of medicines prescribed in anxiety

Benzodiazepines : Clonazepam, Lorazepam, and Alprazolam are commonly prescribed medicine for quick relief of anxiety. It can be addictive if taken regularly for long time and at a higher dose. know more

If you are already on any benzodiazepine, please do not reduce or stop it suddenly without consulting your doctor.

Anti- depressants : Anxiety is also linked with same neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and nor-epinephrine on which anti-depressants work. Therefore, Anti-depressants are prescribed in anxiety for long term benefits.

Beta-blockers : They decrease the physical symptoms (sweating, tremulousness,increased heart rate) of anxiety by blocking the effects of a stress hormone (nor-epinephrine).

Common side-effects of beta-blockers are dizziness, fatigue, cold hands.

Not recommended in people with Asthma.

  • Anti- psychotics

Uses :These are mainly used to treat mania and psychosis (delusions and hallucinations).

Mechanism of Action :Anti-psychotics work by altering some neurotransmitters in brain like Dopamine, Serotonin, Nor-epinephrine etc, which are associated with behavior mood and emotions.

Types :

-Typical/First generation anti-psychotics : Haloperidol, Chlorpromazine etc.

-Atypical/Second generation anti-psychotics : Risperidone, Olanzapine, Amisulpride, Quetiapine etc.

Side-effects :

Rigidity, Drowsiness, weight gain, tremors, dry mouth, nausea, constipation etc.

A person taking an anti-psychotic medication should have his or her weight, glucose levels, and lipid levels monitored regularly by a doctor.

  • Mood- Stabilizers

Uses : Bipolar disorder and mood swings associated other psychiatric disorders.

Types : Lithium, Valproate, Carbamazepine, Lamotrigine etc.

Side-effects :

Nausea, tremors, rash, slurred speech, weight gain, hair fall, changes in vision.

If a person with bipolar disorder is being treated with lithium, he or she should visit the doctor regularly to check the lithium levels.