Psychopharmacology

Specialty of Child & adolescent psychiatry

Psychopharmacology is the scientific discipline concerned with studying the effect of drugs on behaviour and mental disorders.

What is its purpose?

Specialists can prescribe a psychotropic drug to treat abnormal mental states and behaviour, alleviating symptoms, allowing people with mental disorders to improve their quality of life.

What does it involve?

Psychotropic drugs are prescribed to patients with mental disorders, and regular appointments with the psychiatrist are recommended to monitor medication.

The treatment aims to modify the effects of brain neurotransmitters, reducing their concentration and/or blocking the receptors on which they act, in order to improve the patient’s psychotic state.

Psychotropic drugs control the major symptoms of mental disorders. They may act in the cerebral cortex or in deeper brain structures managing more complicated brain functions, such as emotions and memories. 

There are four types of psychotropic drugs:

  • Neuroleptics or antipsychotic drugs: primarily used to treat psychosis, the manic phase of manic-depressive psychosis and toxic psychosis.
  • Anxiolytics and sedatives: to control anxiety and to treat insomnia.
  • Antidepressants: to treat all forms of depression.
  • Mood stabilizers: to treat mood disorders such as bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder.

Preparation

Before starting any treatment, the patient must be aware that the doctor is the only person qualified to modify the dose of each drug and to determine when and how to discontinue treatment. 

Care following treatment 

The patient will need to undergo periodic monitoring to evaluate how well the treatment is working and to know if there are any adverse side effects.

The specialist will know when the patient is ready to discontinue the medication. Normally, after the patient has discontinued medication, they will continue attending psychotherapy sessions to evaluate their mental state. 

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