How Anti-Psychotic Medication Work

Because anti psychotics can be given in the form of a depot injection which release the drug slowly over a period of several weeks, it is a boon for those individuals who forget to take their medication, it is also useful if the person concerned might at some stage of medication take an overdose.

It is thought that some forms of mental illness are due to over-activity of brain cells, this is thought to be caused by high levels of a chemical known as dopamine being present, it is believed that this may disturb the normal activity of the thought processes leading to abnormal behaviour.

Psychosis is a medical term used to describe a mental disorder that stops the sufferer from thinking clearly, acting rationally, and recognizing reality. These disorders include manic depression, paranoia and schizophrenia.

A particular reason for these disorders is as yet unknown however, it is believed a number of reasons could be a cause e.g brain injury, stress, and heredity. Also believed is that the abuse of mind altering drugs, and alcohol withdrawal can also bring on psychosis.

Although a variety of drugs are used to treat this disorder most all of them have similar actions and effects. However, their is one exception, lithium said to be particularly useful for treating manic depression.

What They’re Used For

Before treatment is given time may be allowed to pass. Many individuals may recover from a psychotic illness naturally. Normal life would need to be interfered with quite seriously before long-term treatment would be given.

Anti psychotic drugs are also known as major tranquillizers, or neuroleptics. These drugs do not cure the underlying disorder however, they can restore normal behaviour patterns. These kind of drugs differ from individual to individual as a lot depends on the side effects and sedation each individual would feel.

Anti psychotics may also be given to calm or sedate a highly aggressive or agitated person. Some anti psychotics can be used for pre-medication before surgery as they are powerful against nausea and vomiting.

How They Work

It is believed that some forms of mental ill health are caused by an increase in brain activity. The chemical dopamine causes increased activity between brain cells by attaching itself to receptors on brain cells. Because of this fact it could cause abnormal behaviour in the individual. Anti psychotic drugs bind themselves to these receptors in the brain which in turn reduce the sensitivity of the cells reaction to dopamine.

Health Risks

Up until the 1950’s individuals with such disorders were usually confined to institutions for the mentally impaired. However, these days anti psychotics enable sufferers to live outside of those places. Because of the effect these drugs have on dopamine, the balance between dopamine, and a chemical in the brain called acetylcholine may cause symptoms similar to that of parkinsonism (e.g shaky hands, expressionless face). which would usually call for a change in medication rather than prescribe a drug to specifically combat the adverse side-effects.

Anti psychotics may also lower blood pressure by blocking the neurotransmitter noradrenaline which in turn may cause the patient to suffer bout’s of dizziness on standing. In male patients It could also interfere with the process of ejaculation.

Because these drugs can have permanent as well as temporary side effects the doctor would find the correct minimum dose for the patient by starting off with a low dose, and increasing it until symptoms are under control. It is not recommended to suddenly withdraw from these drugs after more than a few weeks, as this may lead to nausea, vomiting, restlessness and headache.

The most serious side effect of anti psychotic treatment is tardive dyskinsea. This complaint consists of repeated jerking movements of the mouth, tongue, and face, it can also effect the hands, and feet.Gradual reduction of dosage is the key when medication needs to be stopped.

Antimanic Drugs

Changes in mood is normal behaviour for all of us, but when an individuals mood swings become grossly exaggerated with troughs of elation or mania alternating with troughs of depression it then becomes an illness known as manic depression. This is often treated with the drug Lithium which reduces the intensity of the mania lifting the depression so lessening the mood swings.

An anti psychotic can be given along-side lithium this is because lithium takes some weeks to work and an anti psychotic would help to control the symptoms until the lithium delivers its effects. If the level of lithium becomes to high in the blood it can become toxic. Blood checks would be given to keep check on the concentration in the blood. The symptoms of lithium poisoning include diarrhoea, twitching, blurred vision, and vomiting.

Anti psychotics are often given as a depot injection for people who may forget to take their medication on a day to day basis. This kind of injection releases it properties slowly over a period of several weeks. Other forms of administering are tablets, capsules, and syrup.

Dependency may evolve if you were on these type of drugs over a large time scale. Most all Doctors (these days) are aware of this, and I hope would not prescribe the drug if the individual could cope without it.

Below is a list of the most common drugs used.

Typical antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychotics

Antimanic drugs