An Introduction to Medications

By 25 Nov 2000

Anyone can develop a mental illness -- you, a family member, a friend, or the fellow down the block. Some disorders are mild, while others are serious and long-lasting. These conditions can be helped. One important way is with psychotherapeutic medications.

Compared to other types of treatment, medications are relative newcomers in the fight against mental illness. It was only 41 years ago that the first one, chlorpromazine, was introduced. But considering the short time they have been around, psychotherapeutic medications have made dramatic changes in the treatment of mental disorders.

People who, years ago, might have spent many years in mental hospitals because of crippling mental illness may now only go in for brief treatment, or might receive all their treatment at an outpatient clinic.

Psychotherapeutic medications also may make other kinds of treatment more effective. Someone who is too depressed to talk, for instance, can't get much benefit from psychotherapy or counseling; but often, the right medication will improve symptoms so that the person can respond better.

Another benefit from these medications is an increased understanding of the causes of mental illness. Scientists have learned a great deal more about the workings of the brain as a result of their investigations into how psycho- therapeutic medications relieve disorders such as psychosis, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and panic disorder.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Mar 2015
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