Questions & Answers on Psychiatric Medications
Tadao Ogura, M.D.
What Are Psychiatric Medications, Actually?
“Psychiatric medications” – otherwise referred to as psychotropic medications — usually refer to medications that treat psychiatric disorders or conditions, such as depressive, anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive and psychotic disorders, and organic brain syndromes.
Although they may appear to affect “mental” functions or dysfunctions, they are not precisely “mental" medications as distinct from what most people consider to be “regular" medications, such as heart medications or diabetic medications. That is because these so-called “mental functions" such as memory, reasoning, analysis, association, imagination, emotional responses, and conscious awareness, are mostly various aspects of your brain activities — and your brain is a physical organ, just like your heart or pancreas.
Since psychiatric medications are formulated to work on your brain to treat or compensate for its dysfunctions, they are NOT fundamentally different from other types of medications prescribed for physical illnesses. In fact, although psychiatric medications mainly work on the brain (“specific actions”), like most other medications, they also have “general actions” on other parts of the body.
Many medications that are used to treat psychiatric disorders are also commonly used for the treatment of migraine headaches, back pain and PMS. Conversely, many medications that are considered “regular” or “physical" medicines also are used in psychiatry as mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety agents or anti-depressants.
However, when you take any medication that affects on your brain, it suddenly becomes a different ball game. This is because our brains are NOT created equal at all and each individual’s brain functions responds very differently to the same medication. This aspect will be discussed in detail later in this booklet.