Biomedical therapies include drug therapy,
electroconvulsive therapy, and
Drug therapy, or psychopharmacotherapy,
aims to treat psychological disorders with
medications. Drug therapy is usually
combined with other kinds of
psychotherapy. The main categories of
drugs used to treat psychological
disorders are antianxiety drugs,
antidepressants, and antipsychotics.
Anti-anxiety drugs include a class of drugs called
benzodiazepines, or tranquilizers. Two commonly used
benzodiazepines are known by the brand names Valium
Effects: Benzodiazepines take effect almost immediately
after they are administered, but their effects last just a
few hours. Psychiatrists prescribe these drugs for panic
disorder and anxiety.
Side effects: Side effects may include drowsiness, lightheadedness, dry mouth, depression, nausea and
vomiting, constipation, insomnia, confusion, diarrhea,
palpitations, nasal congestion, and blurred vision.
Benzodiazepines can also cause drug dependence.
Tolerance can occur if a person takes these drugs for a
long time, and withdrawal symptoms often appear when
the drug use is discontinued.
Antidepressants usually take a few weeks to have an effect. There are three
classes of antidepressants: monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclics, and
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs):
Tricyclics: Include amitriptyline (Elavil). Tricyclics generally have fewer side
effects than the MAOIs.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): The newest class of
antidepressants, including paroxetine (Paxil), fluoxetine (Prozac), and
Antidepressants are typically prescribed for depression, anxiety, phobias
and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Effects: MAOIs and tricyclics increase the level of the neurotransmitters