What Is Psychopharmacology?

The use of drugs to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders makes psychoactive agents—especially antipsychotics and antidepressants—among the most widely prescribed pharmaceuticals today. Much debate surrounds the use of stimulants to treat attention-deficit problems and the side effects of antidepressants, especially for children. The general effectiveness of antidepressants when measured against a placebo remains controversial, although the treatments that prove most effective combine drugs with psychotherapy.

Recent Posts on Psychopharmacology

Breaking Up with One’s Meds

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on July 31, 2015 in Side Effects
A chronicle of withdrawal syndrome from psychiatric meds.

How I Got Sober

By Anna David on July 30, 2015 in After Party Chat
I figured if quitting drugs and embracing clean living was as bad as I thought it would be, then I could re-think the suicide option.

Codependency in Five Easy Lessons

Codependency can be confusing for people in a relationship with someone who has an addiction to alcohol, drugs or compulsive behaviors. Here is a simple way to understand what is going on and avoid the pitfalls.

The ADHD Advantage

By The Book Brigade on July 29, 2015 in The Author Speaks
Medicine should be the last resort, not the first, when a child is diagnosed with ADHD. There are many other ways to help a child function better—even in the classroom. ADHD

Best Practices in the Diagnosis of ADHD

Although there is no medical test for the diagnosis of AD/HD, the diagnosis should not be given without multiple diagnostic steps, which we explore here.

The Quicksand of Self-deception: The Nocebo Effect

The placebo effect is a well-known phenomenon. Less well-known is the nocebo effect, placebo’s “evil twin.” Can physicians cause more harm than good when they give their patients too much information about a potential medication or therapeutic treatment, including those for weight-related disorders? What are the ethical considerations involved in withholding information?

3 Ineffective Ways I Tried to Manage and Enjoy My Drug Use

By Anna David on July 22, 2015 in After Party Chat
When you’re enjoying something, you’re not trying to manage it and when you’re trying to manage it, you’re no longer enjoying it. But I didn't know that so I tried a trifecta of ridiculous ways to keep my cocaine use under control.

Psychotherapy vs. Medications: The Verdict Is In

Both psychiatrists and psychologists devote their careers to helping people with mental health issues. As promising as neuroscience may be for helping researchers find clues to the brain, the real key to treatment lies in therapy, not drugs. Your best bet is to explore all options when you or your loved ones seek help.

Attempting to Provide Care for Vulnerable Children

In a major study of children aged two to fourteen years in foster care, only 25% of children with severe behavioral needs received any services at all.

A Checklist To Stop Misuse Of Psychiatric Medication In Kids

By Allen J Frances M.D. on July 19, 2015 in DSM5 in Distress
The exponential growth in the use of psycho-stimulants, anti-depressants, and anti-psychotic drugs often harms children more than helps them. This Checklist to help clinicians think through the necessary steps before prescribing medicines.

Can Using Xanax When Flying Cause PTSD?

“We barely made it. After we landed, they closed the airport. Thank God I had my Xanax to get me through it.” Though life-threatening events happen rarely in aviation, they happen routinely in the Xanax-fueled mind of an anxious flier. Threats to one's life, whether real or imagination-based, can lead to PTSD.

Protecting Kids from Psychiatric Drugs

Nelson Madela once said that “Any country, any society which does not care for its children is no nation at all.” At long last, some legislators are beginning to take Mandela's words to heart.

Despite an Ocean of Medication Teenage Suicides Soar

Many observers are inclined to see a causal link here: the flood tide of medications may be causing teen suicides. I’m not so sure. What we’re seeing is probably not a paradoxical effect of medication but the undertreatment of depression.

For Depression: Mindfulness Therapy Works as Well as Drugs

Mindfulness therapy may offer you relief—without any unwanted side effects.

Prescription Drugs Helped Re-boot My System

By Eric Newhouse on July 10, 2015 in Invisible Wounds
From personal experience, I'm learning that prescription drugs can be useful in the short term to allow the body to re-boot itself. And I suspect the same may be true for those suffering from PTSD.

Psychiatric Drugs Are False Prophets With Big Profits

The underling theory of somatic psychiatry is that the source of human struggle is considered to be the brain itself, rather than the person. Treatments that follow from this simplistic, mechanistic, and reductionist notion have been to act directly on the brain, always with violating and destructive outcomes. This is now the tenet of the American Psychiatric Society.

Difficult Choices Following Bipolar Destabilization

Medical withdrawal from enrollment can be a painful but necessary choice sometimes encountered by university students with bipolar disorder. This blog post discuses the importance of carefully managing ones recovery during the time away from school in order to maximize chances of success upon return to the university environment.

Some Medications May Alter Childhood Brain Development

Medications that disrupt REM sleep may alter brain structure during critical phases of child development.

Why We Use Drugs: The Power of Addictive Tendencies

Addictions are a hotel; they are not home but can remind people of home so powerfully that they won’t easily abandon them without knowing where their real home is and how to get there.

An Honest, Heartfelt Portrayal of Bipolar Disorder

Hollywood depictions of mental illness usually are far off the mark. In Infinitely Polar Bear, Mark Ruffalo gives a rich, three dimensional, and deeply sympathetic performance as the bipolar father of two young girls.

The Painful Truth About Heroin

What is the connection between chronic pain and the heroin epidemic?

Trends in Youth Psychiatric Treatment: The Plot Thickens

A major new study looks at changes in the rates of child psychiatric disorders and their treatment. Its combination of both good and bad news will be a challenge to the cherry pickers on both sides of the psychiatry debate.

Hacking Hatred — What Drives People to Hate and Kill

Hacking hatred and what drives someone to hate and then to kill

Sex Pills for Women: Teasing the Hype From Hope

Talk about the new sex pill harkens back to century-old health debates.

Dr. Jones Tapia Takes On Mental Health in Prisons

By Michael Friedman Ph.D. on June 11, 2015 in Brick by Brick
Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia is a psychologist and the newly appointed executive director of the Cook County Jail in Chicago, one of the biggest prisons in the country. She shares how her plans to address the mental health needs of prisoners in order to reduce recidivism and promote healthy re-entry into society.

All Pain Is Real

Finding creative and innovative ways to approach the problem of chronic pain.

The FDA, the DSM, Gender Equality, and “Female Viagra”

By Christopher Lane Ph.D. on June 08, 2015 in Side Effects
Will the FDA succumb to lobbyists accusing it of gender bias?

Positive Psychiatry: The Next Chapter for an Evolving Field

It’s time for psychiatry to move towards being true physician experts in mental health, not just mental illness. This means going beyond psychotherapy and medications treatment by incorporating validated wellness strategies in the day to day work with patients and families.

3 Facts All Parents Should Know About ADHD Stimulant Drugs

If there was a drug being manufactured for kids to take daily for several years or more, that research documents comes with endless serious and life threatening side effects (e.g., dependency, depression, death), how long would you want the FDA to track kids taking the drug to make sure it was safe and effective for extended periods of use? The answer might surprise you...