Mind Tripping: Common Psychoactive Medications Used in the Treatment of Psychological Disorders

Published: 22nd August 2010
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Among the sub-disciplines under the fields of medicine and science, the most dynamic areas include the studies on "diseases of the mind." This is not so much caused by neglect, but by a lack of true understanding of the basic goings-on of the brain and the central nervous system. Modern medical science has come a long way in this field, however, with the introduction of psychology and psychoactive medication. We now have a better understanding of how the mind works and what can happen when it doesn't. With scientific approaches, it is no longer acceptable to just thoughtlessly assume that people are possessed by demons or used as mouthpieces of the gods.

At the moment, there are several common psychological problems that can be treated or alleviated by using the right psychoactive medication. Anxiety, for example, is often treated with a variety of medications available via prescription. Among the more prominent types are chemicals from the benzodiazepine family of compounds, which has also been used as components in the production of tranquilizers and muscle relaxants. They act by "depressing" the central nervous system, triggering a release of biochemicals that cause sedation and relaxation. This alleviates both the mental and physical symptoms of an anxiety attack. Aside from anxiety, benzodiazepine compounds can also be used to treat problems like insomnia.

Serotonin, which is often linked to depression, has also been targeted by psychoactive drugs. Generally, serotonin uptake inhibitors are used to help alleviate clinical depression. Fluoxetine and setraline are widely used for this purpose, which are by no means the only ones that are available. Antidepressant drugs, regardless of the core ingredient, tend to be slow-acting. This is mainly because they need time to break down the chemicals being produced by the brain that cause the disorder. The process can often take hours, so antidepressants need to be taken during certain intervals, rather than being taken on an as-needed basis. It is not unusual for the initial dose to have appreciable and observable effects only after several days have passed, with the full brunt of the medication only being apparent after several weeks.

Based on statistics, there has been a sharp rise in the number of cases of psychosis. The precise cause of this condition is currently unknown but stress, environmental factors, hereditary traits, and cranial injury have all been speculated. Phenothiazines are the class of medications often used as anti-psychotic drugs, with the "relief" the drugs are able to provide tending to vary. Unlike most of the other medications listed here, anti-psychotic medications focus more on blocking the receptors in the brain rather than breaking down or preventing the productions of the biochemical "messengers."

Generally, any medication that makes it to the market has been thoroughly tested and is unlikely to cause a large amount of dangerous effects. However, there will still be other things to be considered when dealing with drugs of this nature. Due to the effects they have on the brain and the lack of concrete knowledge on how some of them actually function, it is advisable to use them with caution. Most of these drugs would be prescribed with a specific schedule of when the doses should be taken. These schedules are made for a reason and should be followed near-religiously.

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