The use of medication in the treatment of mental illness has grown significantly over the past fifty years. Hundreds of medications for the treatment of various mental disorders have been designed to improve symptoms, alleviate suffering and correct overall body function – the main goals of drug therapy.
The symptoms of mental illness are often related to the dysfunction of a neurotransmitter in one part of the brain. For example, sleep and appetite disturbances, often seen in severe depressive symptoms, are thought to be related to a dysfunction of the limbic system. As a result, drugs are intended to influence the functioning of certain neurotransmitters in this area of the brain – in this case, serotonin is the target.
Theoretically, each disorder or, more precisely, each symptom is associated with a certain type of neurotransmitter. Drugs intended to treat a particular symptom therefore have a selective effect on the neurotransmitter concerned.
Relieving people with depression Medications used to treat depression are classified as “antidepressants”. Most have an effect on the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin. Antidepressants are divided into two subcategories based on their mode of action. Tricyclic antidepressants” block the reuptake of norepinephrine by the presynaptic neuron,
thereby increasing the concentration of norepinephrine level in the synapse and prolonging the activation of the postsynaptic neuron, stimulated by norepinephrine. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) block serotonin reuptake and have the same effect of prolonging activation. Among the SSRIs, the most common brands are : Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft.