Historical Perspectives

  • Before 1950, sedatives and amphetamines were the only significant psychotropic drugs available.
  • Since the 1950’s, psychopharmacology has expanded to include antipsychotic, antidepressant, and antianxiety drugs.
  • Psychotropic drugs are intended to be used as an adjunct to individual or group psychotherapy.

Function and Activities of the Brain

  • Maintenance of homeostasis
  • Regulation of autonomic nervous system (ANS) and hormones
  • Control of biological drives and behavior
  • Cycle of sleep and wakefulness
  • Circadian rhythms
  • Conscious mental activity
  • Memory
  • Social skills

Review: Cellular Composition of Brain

  • Neurons-nerve cells that conduct electrical impulses
  • Neurotransmitter-chemical that is released in response to an electrical impulse (neuro-messenger).  
    • Psychotropic drugs act by modulating neurotransmitters
    • Attaches to a receptor on cell surface and either inhibits or excites

Theories behind use of psychotropic drugs focuses on neurotransmitters and their receptors

Visualizing the Brain

  • Structured imaging techniques
    • Computed tomography (CT)
      • X-rays to produce images for instance bones and tumors
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
      • Use magnetic field and radio frequency pulses to produces detailed pictures of organs and body structures
  • Functional imaging techniques
    • Positron emission tomography (PET)
    • Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT)

Therapeutic effects of Psychotropic meds

It’s important to remember that psychotropic medications (inform the client):-

  • Do not “cure” but relieve or decrease symptoms
  • Prevent or delay return of signs and symptoms
  • Cannot be used as the sole treatment for disorders
  • Need informed consent before starting
  • Are broad spectrum and have effects on a large number of signs and symptoms.
  • Initial effects are sedative in nature
  • May take weeks for effects to be seen

There are many reasons why the client may not adhere to the medications which may include:-

  • Meds are expensive
  • Unpleasant side effects such as nausea, mood swings, etc.
  • Feel better and decide no longer need
  • Stigma associated with having a mental illness and taking meds
  • Paranoia or fears about med usage

Things to consider when giving medications

  • Use with great caution
  • Start low and go slow for both elders and children!!
  • Elders have decrease liver & renal function
  • Risk of injuries and falls with elderly