What You Need to Know About Medications in Psychiatry

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What is Psychiatry?

Psychiatry is a field of medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating mental health, emotional, or behavioral disorders. Psychiatry differs from other fields of mental health (i.e. psychology, social work) because a Psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor who can prescribe medications to patients. 

Psychologists and Social Workers can provide excellent services for clients in other ways such as talk therapy or cognitive behavior therapy. Therapy can be provided in person or online through websites such as BetterHelp.com. However, therapists and social workers are not qualified to prescribe medications.

Psychiatric Medications

Medications in the field of psychiatry work by altering the chemicals of the brain and nervous system in an individual. These prescription medications in the field of mental health have faced serious backlash regarding whether they are a safe and effective way to treat psychological conditions. 

However, the tremendous benefits that psychiatric medications have provided for the field of mental health should not be dismissed. These medications play a vital role in treating various mental health disorders that would cause the individual to suffer otherwise. Medication has been shown to effectively reduce negative symptoms that individuals with mental health conditions might face. Prescription medications have also reduced the cost of mental health care by decreasing the number of long-term hospitalization needed for psychiatric conditions. 

Science-based experiments have confirmed that prescription medications effectively reduce the symptoms associated with various mental health disorders such as major depression, mood disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and other psychotic disorders. 

Medications for Addiction Recovery:

Prescription medications created to treat recovering addicts have faced controversy because of the nature of the very disorder. Many individuals think that taking a medicine to help a drug addiction is just another form of substance abuse. However, a drug that alters an individual’s mood is very different from a medication that simply manages their mood.

Certain prescription medications help reduce cravings for recovering addicts. The most commonly prescribed anti-craving drugs include Suboxone, Narcan, Baclofen, Subutex, and Naloxone. Some of these medications help alleviate withdrawal symptoms for recovering drug addicts. 

Recovering drug addicts will sometimes not seek medical treatment due to the negative stigma that society places on prescription medications. To some individuals, strong willpower and the desire to quit should be enough for recovery. However, what people fail to recognize is just how massive the physical component of a drug addiction is for an individual. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely difficult for some addicts to handle and a strong desire or willpower might not be enough. 

Prescription drugs do not take away from the fact that a person will still need massive willpower and strength to quit their addiction. The best way to put it is that prescription medication will help you stay afloat, but you still have to do the swimming. A recovering drug addict is more likely to go into relapse if they can not tolerate their withdrawal symptoms. A medication that will help them battle these symptoms is truly helpful if it prevents them from going back to a drug/habit that was life-threatening for them.

There are also prescription drugs available for recovering drug addicts during their detox period. One reason why many drug addicts do not consider quitting is because they simply can’t imagine life without the substance they are addicted to. Detox drugs enable them to handle life without their drug of choice during their detox period. The detox medication often empowers a recovering addict to be able to quit their addiction on a long term basis.

Side Effects

It is important to note that Psychiatric medications do come with side effects. However, that is the case for any prescription medication (whether it’s related to mental health or not). If a patient reports side effects to a psychiatrist, the doctor should not dismiss the concern. Recognizing the patient’s concern and expressing sympathy could greatly help alleviate concerns regarding mild side effects. More serious side effects can be handled by changing the dose or timing of the dose. In other cases, the psychiatrist can stop the medication altogether and switch to a different medication created for the same purpose.

It is very important for the patient that they take medication as instructed by their psychiatrist. Any deviation from the prescribed dose can harm a patient’s mental and/or physical health.  Truly, Prescription medications can significantly help improve a person’s mental and emotional state when taken as instructed by their psychiatrist.