Psychopharmacology Assignment Help


Study of the influence of drugs on the mind and behavior, specifically in the context of developing treatments for mental disorders. In the 20th century major psychopharmacological advances include the development of antidepressants, tranquilizers, lithium carbonate (for bipolar disorder), certain stimulants (by including amphetamines), and antipsychotic agents like fluphenazine (Prolixin), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), and haloperidol (Haldol).

In its broadest sense , Psychopharmacology, the study of all of pharmacological agents that affect mental & emotional functions. Usually the term is applied more in particular to the study & synthesis of drugs utilized in the control of psychiatric illnesses, that is the antipsychotic, antidepressant , antianxiety and antimanic medications. The extensive use of drugs among individuals suffering from mental sickness is a relatively recent phenomenon, developing since the year of 1950s.

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Modern psychopharmacology:

The dawn of contemporary psychopharmacology marked the starting of the use of psychiatric drugs to treat psychological sickness. It brought with it the use of barbiturates and opiates for the management of acute behavioral issues in patients. In the early stages, psychopharmacology was mainly used for sedation. Then along with the 1950s came the establishment of lithium carbonate for mania, chlorpromazine for psychoses and then in rapid succession, the development of monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants,  benzodiazepines, among other antidepressants and antipsychotics. An important feature of this era involve an evolution of research methods, along with the establishment of placebo-controlled, double blind studies, & the development of technique for examining blood levels with respect to clinical outcome and enhanced sophistication in clinical trials. The early 1960s revealed a revolutionary model via Julius Axelrod describing nerve signals and synaptic transmission that was followed through a drastic enhance of biochemical brain research into the influence of psychotropic agents on brain chemistry. After the year of 1960s, the field of psychiatry shifted to incorporate the indications for and efficacy of pharmacological treatments, and started to target on the use and toxicities of these medications. The 1970s & 1980s were marked further via a better understanding of the synaptic aspects of the action mechanisms of drugs.

Antipsychotic Drugs:

These drugs can ameliorate the kind of hallucinations and delusions characteristic of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The primary drug of this kind was reserpine, whose use dates through ancient Hindu medicine however whose reintroduction as an antipsychotic agent in the year of 1954 marked the starting of the large-scale use of antipsychotic drugs. Due to side effects, by including depression, reserpine has been supplanted through phenothiazine drugs. The phenothiazine chlorpromazine was the primary to be extensively applied to mental disorders & remains one of the standard drugs. In the treatment of schizophrenia Drugs of the phenothiazine family are most useful. They are thought to act in part via blocking dopamine receptors at the synapse, decreasing brain activity. The clozapine and phenothiazines have been credited along with a revolutionary transformation of mental health care, enabling enhancing several psychotic persons to function outside the hospital. Antipsychotic drugs might have negative side effects, like the dulling of physical & tardive dyskinesia, mental functioning, and sedation.

Antianxiety Drugs:

Antianxiety drugs, by including the propanediol meprobamate (Equanil or Miltown), and the more recent benzodiazephines like diazepam (Valium) have found broad use in decreasing tension and anxiety among individuals along with less serious mental disorders, however may lead to addiction if abused. Although they make chemically diverse group, the physiological influence of each are same; in small doses they relieve anxiety by decreasing muscular tension, and in larger doses they generates sedation, sleep, and anesthesia . In the United States,  Antianxiety drugs are the most frequently approved pharmaceuticals.


Antidepressants appeared in the late year of 1950s, and have been utilized in the treatment of individuals suffering from depression phase of bipolar disorder or major depression. Antidepressants involved the tricyclics and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. These drugs contain the effect of enhancing the concentration in the nervous system of catecholamines like epinephrine. The toxic influence of the MAO inhibitors have been mainly overcome in recent years, and the drugs are yet used in several instances. They have been supplanted in several uses, however, by tricyclic compounds, like amitriptyline (Elavil), and the newer serotonin increasers, like sertraline HCL (Zoloft) and fluoxetine (Prozac). Tricyclics are chemically same to phenothiazines, however that activates instead of tranquilize . The option of an antidepressant frequently has more to do with its side effects than efficacy.

Antimanic and Hallucinogenic Drugs:

In the form lithium carbonate, the element lithium has been extensively used as an antimanic in cases of bipolar disorder (manic-depression), specifically to control manic episodes. Lithium changes the transport of sodium ions in muscle cells and nerve and influence the metabolism of catecholamines; the precise mechanism of action is unknown. The hallucinogenic drugs, like LSD and mescaline, have been of research interest since they frequently mimic natural psychotic states.

Psychopharmacological research:

In psychopharmacology, researchers are interested in any substance which crosses the blood–brain barrier and therefore has an influence on mood, behavior or cognition. For their physiochemical properties drugs are researched, physical side effects, and psychological side effects. In psychopharmacology, researchers study a variety of distinct psychoactive substances that involved cannabinoids, alcohol, club drugs, opiates, psychedelics, nicotine, caffeine, inhalants, psychomotor stimulants, and anabolic-androgenic steroids. They also study drugs utilized in the treatment of affective and anxiety disorders, plus schizophrenia.

Clinical studies are frequently very specific, typically starting along with animal testing, and ending along with human testing. In the human testing phase, there is frequently a group of subjects, one group is given a placebo, and the other is administered a measured carefully therapeutic dose of the drug in question. After all testing is finished, the drug is proposed to the concerned regulatory authority (for example the U.S. FDA), and is either introduced to the public commercially by means of prescription, or deemed safe sufficient for over the counter sale.

Though specific drugs are prescribed for particular symptoms or syndromes, usually they are not specific to the treatment of any single mental disorder. Due to their ability to change the behavior of even the most disturbed patients, antianxiety, the antipsychotic and antidepressant agents have significantly affected the management of the hospitalized mentally ill, making able hospital staff to devote more of their attention to therapeutic attempts and enabling several patients to lead comparatively normal lives outside of the hospital

A rather controversial application of psychopharmacology is "cosmetic psychiatry" Persons who do not satisfied criteria for any psychiatric disorder are nevertheless prescribed psychotropic medication. Then the antidepressant Wellbutrin is prescribed to enhance perceived energy levels and assertiveness whereas diminishing requirement for sleep. The antihypertensive compound Inderal is sometimes selected to remove the discomfort of day-to-day "normal" anxiety. In non-depressed people Prozac can generates a feeling of generalized well-being. Mirapex, a treatment for restless leg syndrome, can radically increase libido in women. These & other off-label life-style applications of medications are not uncommon. Although sporadically reported in the medical literature no guidelines for such usage have been developed. There is also a potential for misuse of prescription psychoactive drugs through elderly persons, who might have multiple drug prescriptions.

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