Psychopharmacology Treatments – How Do They Work?
There Is No Way Of Measuring Our Mind
There is a lot still to learn about the mind and how our brain chemistry affects it. It can be hard to understand how psychopharmacology treatments actually work, when there is no way of measuring our mind. Today, I will write about anti-depressants.
The most ‘popular’ anti-depressants to prescribe at this time are SSRIs. SSRI stands for serotonin sensitive reuptake inhibitor. What does this mean? The point of an SSRI is to inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin, so that serotonin levels gradually increase.
Neurotransmitters and Mood
What is serotonin? Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which helps to balance mood. Certain things we eat or do can boost serotonin levels – this is why doctors often recommend a healthy diet and regular exercise when you’re suffering from depression or anxiety issues. However, food and exercise are not a cure. Sometimes, we need the extra boost.
SSRIs vs SNRIs
Different kinds of antidepressants do different things. Similar to the SSRI anti-depressants, there are also SNRIs. SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) also inhibit the re-uptake of norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a stress hormone and neurotransmitter. It prepares the body for movement. Low levels of norepinephrine can be a part of depression, making you feel sluggish and less motivated to move or do things, more inclined to sleep – this is a symptom that many people with depression experience.
Symptoms Of Depression And Anxiety That Can Be Helped By Anti-Depressants
Depression and anxiety affect people in different ways. Some people with depression get irritable, struggle with insomnia and might ‘work their problems away’. Others might sleep too much and find it hard to do tasks that most would consider simple (brushing teeth, making dinner etc). In the first example mentioned, an SSRI might be prescribed, as irritability and insomnia are more linked to stress and anxiety. In the second example an SNRI might be prescribed to help lift the patient’s energy levels as well as lifting their mood.
There Is So Much More To Learn
Overall, this is only one small area of psychopharmacology. All patients who are prescribed these medications need to be monitored for a while after taking them, just to make sure they are responding in a healthy way.