Services/Types of Treatments
In the past, psychiatric medications
had many serious side effects, so serious that unless the
person was very disabled by symptoms, it was preferred not to prescribe
them (this was especially true in the case of antidepressants).
However, today there are many medications that do an excellent job of
controlling symptoms, with few side effects. Still, side effects
remain and tend to be more severe and more common than those for
medications to treat physical illnesses.
If you are prescribed psychiatric medications, it is
important that you follow these recommendations:
visit the prescribing physician regularly.
Even if you also visit other doctors, you need to keep in regular
contact with the doctor who prescribed the medication. If you
are given an appointment in two weeks, don't miss it. If you do
not keep in touch you are not allowing your doctor to monitor possible
side effects, which may easily be controlled. You are also not
allowing your doctor to monitor the effectiveness of the
medication. Since there is usually more than one medication to
treat disorders, if you are not improving after a certain time limit,
your doctor may prescribe a different medication. In some cases it is
only the fourth or fifth medication that turns out to be
let your doctor know about any changes in your body
or mind soon after beginning to take a medication. If you are
feeling ill, you need to call your doctor immediately and stop
taking the medication until he/she evaluates whether the medication is
be patient. Some medications take
from a few days to a few weeks to begin to control symptoms. For example, medications for
depression take at least 2 weeks to begin to control symptoms. Once
they start, though, you'll be happy you started taking them.
take your medicine as prescribed. Some
people take their depression medication only on the days they feel
very depressed. This type of medication does not function like
aspirins do. If you don't take the medications regularly for the
prescribed time, they will not be effective.
if you feel better and want to stop
taking your medication, you need to discuss this with the prescribing
physician. Some medications need to be "tapered
off." If they are not, you may get sick and need to go to
the emergency room.
abstain from using drugs or alcohol. Some of
these medications will make you very sick if you take them combined
with drugs or alcohol. Others will not be as effective, and with
still others you may feel a worsening of symptoms, instead of an
The medications specifically designed
to help with mental problems fall into four general classes. First are the
antipsychotics, used primarily to help with the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Chlorpromazine and halperidol are examples. The second are the
antidepressants, among which are the so-called tricyclics and
imiprimine for example. The third are anticycling
agents (medication for bipolar disorder), among which
lithium is the best known; however, other medications that are based on
valproic acid act more quickly with fewer side effects. Finally, there are the medications used
primarily to calm fear and anxiety; these are called "hypnoanxiolytics"
(anti-anxiety medication) and include drugs like diazepam. If you
click on any of the links above, you will get to a detailed description of
each type of medication and how it works. You can also go to a table
that compares the various types of medications, their effects and side