What are psychiatric medicines?
Psychiatric medicines involve the use of drugs to treat mental illnesses. Mental illnesses are caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain due to various factors such as genetics or the environment. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Psychiatric medicines play a role in increasing or decreasing the amounts of neurotransmitters in our brain. These changes in neurotransmitters can alter our mood, thoughts, perception, or behavior.
What are psychiatric medicines used for?
Psychiatric medicines are used to treat mental illnesses. These medicines are not a quick fix to any illness. But they can help reduce the symptoms of an illness. For instance, for someone whose day goes on being anxious, medicines can help reduce the levels of anxiety and make it easier to go through the day. If depression makes it difficult to even get out of bed in the morning, medicines can help find the motivation to do routine activities. For someone dealing with severe mental illnesses, medicines can help achieve a balanced state and improvement in personal, occupational, and social spheres.
What are the common myths about psychiatric medicines?
The thought of starting psychiatric medication brings several apprehensions. Most of the beliefs upheld by popular culture may actually turn out to be myths. Some of those have been discussed below.
Myth 1: Psychiatric medications are addictive.
This is a false notion. While psychiatric medicines may be required for the duration in which the symptoms of the illness are being treated, once the person has fully recovered, the medicines can be tapered down and eventually stopped. These medications when prescribed by a qualified psychiatrist as per the existing treatment recommendations will not cause any harm/be addictive. However, if the patient feels that they are becoming addicted, they may consult the doctor.
Myth 2: Psychiatric medicines will change your personality.
Psychiatric medicines do not change you as a person. They only impact the neurotransmitters and treat your symptoms. They only help you feel more like yourself and enable you to do things you would rather like to do.
Myth 3: If the medicine works for someone else, it will work for me.
The effect of psychiatric medicines is different for different people. Also, different medicines work for different symptoms. So no one size fits all, they have to be prescribed as per the patient’s symptoms and goals
Myth 4: Psychiatric medicines are for weak people.
Mental illnesses need to be treated like any other physical illness. Despite the misconceptions in society, in reality, it depicts a great amount of courage to admit that a person has a mental illness.
Myth 5: The impact of the medicine will show instantly.
The effectiveness of the medication varies from person to person based on their body metabolism. Some people may see the benefit of medicines within a few days while others may need a few weeks to a few months to feel better.
Myth 6: Psychiatric medicines are the same as recreational drugs.
Psychiatric medicines are used for the treatment of mental illnesses. Recreational drugs, on the other hand, are used for pleasure and can lead to addiction.
Myth 7: If one type of medicine didn’t work, the rest will also not work.
There can be different treatment plans to treat a single illness. If one type doesn’t work, it is worth it to try another plan.
Myth 8: Psychiatric medicines can be quit once the symptoms are gone.
It’s advisable to not stop the medicine until the psychiatrist feels so. This is to ensure that the patient doesn’t replace the illness.
Myth 9: Side effects are worse than the symptoms.
Most people will not experience side effects. The majority of side effects that occur are also mild for example increased sleep for 1st 2 to 3 days. With some drugs, the side effects start showing, it will take a few weeks for them to go away as the body adjusts to the new normal. In case, the side effects are long-term and cause considerable unease, then the drug can be changed under proper supervision.
What are the different types of psychiatric medicines?
They are used to treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders however they can also be used to treat other illnesses as an adjuvant drug. They usually include tricyclic antidepressants(TCA), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), and other atypical antidepressants.
These are used to relieve symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Both SSRIs and SNRIs are used to treat anxiety. Beta-blockers can also help manage symptoms, such as rapid heart rate, sweating, and tremors.
These are used to treat people who have lost touch with reality and experience psychosis which includes – delusions, hallucinations, or agitation.
Mood stabilizers These are used to treat mood disorders such as bipolar. Lithium is one of the oldest and most effective mood stabilizers. They may also be used to treat depression. Some anticonvulsant medications are also effective mood stabilizers and hence prescribed by psychiatrists.