Psychopharmacology is the study of medications which lead to changes in mood, thinking, and behavior. The word comes from the Greek words for “life” and “soul.”:

The psychiatrist is specifically trained to administer psychiatric medications for those who suffer from mood disorders, attentional problems, sleep disorders, anxiety, or addiction. These medications affect a person’s neurochemistry leading to changes in mood, cognition, perception, or behavior. Each medication has a specific action on neurotransmitters in the brain. Psychiatry now understands the role of serotonin, dopamine, and noreprinephrine in affecting mood, temperament, and behavior.

Psychiatric medications are approved by the FDA only after they have demonstrated statistically significant improvement rates with manageable side effects. The psychiatrist has knowledge of the interaction of the administered psychotropic medications with other medications the patient may be prescribed. Dr. Permesly works with his patients primary care physicians and therapists to identify rule out conditions that may mimic psychiatric syndromes and to augment current care.

If medication is indicated an initial prescription will be provided. A follow up appointment is scheduled to monitor any side effects as well as the effectiveness of the medication. The doctor will continue to adjust or augment the medication while providing other clinical care.

Main Groups of Psychiatric Medications

Antidepressants treat a wide range of disorders such as depression, dysthymia, anxiety, eating disorders, borderline personality disorders, and sleep disturbances. An antidepressant medication limits the metabolism of serotonin or norepinephrine or both. Among the commonly prescribed medications are Celexa, Cymbalta, Effexor, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Pristiq, Remeron, Wellbutrin, and Zoloft. These medications are also effective first-line treatment for anxiety disorders.

Psychostimulants treat attention deficit disorder, narcolepsy, and excessive daytime sleepiness (associated with shift work.) A stimulant is a medication that releases dopamine in the frontal lobe. Medications in this class would include Adderal, Concerta, Focalin, Ritalin, and Vyvanze.

Atypical Neuroleptics, or antipsychotic medications, were developed to treat mood and mania. They have proved to be most useful in augmenting antidepressants in treatment resistant depression. Frequently prescribed medication in this group would include Abilify and Seroquel.

Mood Stabilizers help regulate both the mania and depression associated with bipolar disorder keeping the mood on a more even keel. Among the most prescribed mood stabilizers are Depakote, Lamictal, Lithium, Neurotin, Tegretol, and Topomax

Anxiolytics are used to treat anxiety disorders including panic disorder and generalized anxiety. Benzodiazapines are the most widely used for this treatment. Commonly prescribed medications for anxiety include Ativan, Buspar, Klonopin, Librium, Valium, and Xanax.

Hypotics are medications used to help initiate and maintain a proper sleep cycle. Medications in this class would include Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, and Sonata.

Addiction Medications address addiction and successfully assist with withdrawal and recovery from nicotine, alcohol, and opiate abuse. These medications which are carefully regulated include Antibuse, Campral, Chantix, Naltrexone, Revia, and Suboxone

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