Drugs to Treat Mental Illness
What Drugs Treat Psychotic Disorders? continued...
There are, however, a few serious side effects that are possible, especially with long-term use of anti-psychotic medications. These side effects include:
: This is a movement disorder that results in unusual and uncontrollable movements, usually of the tongue and face (such as sticking out the tongue and smacking the lips), and sometimes jerking and twisting movements of other parts of the body.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
: This is a potentially fatal disorder characterized by severe muscle rigidity (stiffening), fever, sweating, high blood pressure, delirium, and sometimes coma.
: This is a condition marked by a decrease in the number of infection-fighting white blood cells. This condition can leave the person prone to infection and at greater risk of death. Agranulocytosis has been linked only to Clozaril. People taking Clozaril must have regular blood tests to closely monitor their white blood cell count.
Changes in Blood Sugar and Cholesterol: Some atypical anti-psychotics can cause increases in blood sugar (which could eventually lead to diabetes) and blood lipids such as cholesterol and triglycerides. Periodic blood tests are necessary to monitor these factors.
If anti-psychotic drug side effects are particularly troublesome, your doctor may change medications or dosages. The newer atypical anti-psychotic medications appear to be much better tolerated, with fewer side effects such as movement disorders or drowsiness, but they require monitoring for weight and metabolic risks, which appear to be higher than with older-generation anti-psychotics.In addition, other medications are available to help control some of these side effects if they are persistent or troublesome.
What Drugs Treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
Another group of drugs called stimulants may be used for certain disorders, primarily attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The most commonly used stimulants include Ritalin, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Vyvance.
The FDA requires all ADHD drugs to include patient medication guides that detail serious outcomes from the use of the drugs, including a slightly higher risk of stroke, heart attack and sudden death, and psychiatric problems like becoming manic.
The agency has also issued warnings that children and teens who take the non-stimulant ADHD drug atomoxetine (Strattera) may have suicidal thoughts.
What Drugs Treat Mental Illness in Children?
Many drugs used to treat mental disorders in adults are also used to treat the same illnesses in children. However, doctors often reduce the doses given.
The FDA has determined that antidepressant drugs can increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. If you have questions or concerns, discuss them with your health care provider.
Can Drugs Cure Mental Illness?
Drugs cannot cure mental illnesses. Rather, they work to control many of the most troubling symptoms, often enabling people with mental disorders to return to normal or near-normal functioning. Reducing symptoms with medication can also enhance the effectiveness of other treatments, such as psychotherapy (a type of counseling).