What is psychopharmacology?
Psychopharmacology is the study of biological materials that influence mental states. Such agents can help with changes in mood, sensation, thinking, or behavior. These medicines can be derived from plants or chemically synthesized in a laboratory. Psychopharmacology is used to treat conditions like depression, anxiety, psychosis, acute pain, chronic pain, insomnia and a number of other conditions.
Source: Psychology Today.
Can medicine heal?
We believe that there are some medicines that can provide symptom relief and cures. Like antibiotics cure infections, medicines that act on the brain can sometimes provide a cure but more often than not, the “cure.” But more often than not, the cure remains while the medicine is being taken. Some people, thus, call medicines a bandaid only. Healing, we believe, is a multi-faceted process. And we have found that medicines that affect the psyche when used correctly foster that healing.
What types of medicines are there?
Medicines are constantly being made but in general Psychopharmacological medicines are broadly divided into the following categories.
- Anxiolytics (Like Alprazolam, Clonazepam, Lorazepam)
- Antidepressants (Like Fluoxetine, Venlafaxine, Duloxetine)
- Antipsychotics (Like Riseperidone, Quetiapine, Ziprasidone)
- Mood stabilizers (Like Valproic acid, Lithium, Lamotrigine)
- Stimulants (Like Methylphenidate, Dextroamphetamine, Modafinil)
- Hypnotics (Like Zolpidem, Eszoplicone, Ramelteon)
- Autonomic nervous system medicines (Like Clonidine, Propranolol, Prazosin)
Are medicines better than psychotherapy?
The research shows that the medicines and psychotherapy are equal in efficacy but in most conditions, medicine acts faster than psychotherapy but psychotherapy is more effective in the long run. A combination of Medicines and Psychotherapy yields the best results often.
What are the problems with medications?
Use of medicines becomes a problem when they are being used to balance side effects or consequences of other decisions. For example if someone drinks too much coffee and then has to take an anxiolytic then the use of the medicine could probably be avoided if there was focus on lifestyle. Medicines can also have side effects. And the use of medicines is always balanced by a risk benefit ratio.
What are the side effects of the medicines?
Side effects from medicines depend on many factors. For example side effects depend upon:
- Use of multiple medications
- High dosage
- Genetically sensitive individuals.
- Long term use of a medicine
- Co-existing medical or psychological conditions
Can I get off the medicines once I start them?
It depends on why the medication is being taken. Some conditions can be life long in nature and a person decides at some point whether use of a medicine improves their quality of life and productivity. There has been some research studies that have been coming out that show that discontinuing medications can be more difficult for some medications than others.
Do you take people off medications?
Yes we try to simplify treatment as much as possible and wean people of medicines, supplements or herbs that are not needed. Our philosophy is that if we work on other healing modalities, the use of medications can be minimized. There is usually a lesser reliance on medications if other interventions are used.
Do you use herbs and nutrients along with medicines?
It depends on the unique circumstances of an individual. Because extensive research is lacking about drug-herb interactions, we try to use safe biological substances together. Because of lack of research, individualizing treatment to a person can help not get side effects from drug interactions.
Do we know how medicines work?
We have hypotheses about mechanisms of actions for medicines. The neurotransmitter hypothesis or the inflammation hypothesis are two such theories. The research into how these medicines act is an ongoing field of study.
Is there research about the medicines?
Yes. Before a medicine is approved to be used on humans, it has to be researched extensively and has to meet certain safety guidelines. The research on some medicines that have been around for decades, is extensive. Oftentimes the way medicines are used in clinical medicine is a result of multiple randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses and expert treatment algorithms and recommendations. Ofcourse then there are times that the medicine does not have as extensive a research behind it.
What about the “big pharma?”
A general mistrust of anything that the pharmaceutical companies make, is a cultural phenomenon of our times. It has to deal with lack of trust and spread of false information. Pharmaceutical companies, it is true, make a lot of money on some of these medicines. They also have a financial interest in studying specific medicines. Sometimes the best interest of a patient and financial incentives are in line with each other and at other times they are not. The allegations against big pharma are many. And everybody has a different point of view. We believe that awareness about these different points of view are helpful in customizing treatment plans. We respect everyone’s beliefs and attempt to guide healing according to that.
Do you do genetic testing?
Yes. Genetic testing represents a big step towards precision individualized medicine. We can do genetic testing that tells us how your body is metabolizing various medications. Knowing this can give extra information which can be used in making your individualized treatment plan.
How can you tell what medicine is a good fit?
First and foremost a good assessment can help inform about previous medication trials and responses. We have There are some predictive
Do you rely only on medicines?
Absolutely not. We hold the use of medicines as sacred just like the use of some of our herbs. There are situations in which medicines are indicated and there are situations in which other treatment modalities have a better risk/benefit ratio. We find people confused with the overwhelming information out there and how it applies to their own self. Since we work in a collaborative manner, the choice of medicine and whether we want to medicate is a collective decision between physician and patient.