Modern Advances in the treatment of Mental Illness and Psychiatric Disorders

Modern Advances in the treatment of

Mental Illness and Psychiatric Disorders

Mental Illness is a subject that still carries a stigma in some societies even in these modern and enlightened times.

Mental Health Professionals these days have so much more knowledge and help in the form of medication and other treatments. The depth and recognition of the variety of disorders can be perplexing to the lay person to get information about and as always the first port of call must be their General Practitioner who will refer them to the relevant Mental Health Specialist for their condition.

Mental illness is not as uncommon as people think.

One in four people will experience a mental health illness in their lifetime.

It is important to stress that this is an illness like many others, and it is important not to hide away from it because of peer pressures and fears of being labelled disparagingly as “a nutcase” or other labels that harm the victim even more.

Mental illness can come as serious with:

  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis

There are so many forms, but gradual symptoms and warning signs of oncoming mental illness can include:-

  • Withdrawal from contact with society and family.
  • Emotional Mood Swings and depression or negativity.
  • Sleep and appetite loss or changes.
  • Disfunction at normally achievable tasks, sports, school work etc.
  • Lapses in concentration, logical thought & memory loss.
  • Oversensitive; to noises, smells, touch, deliberately avoiding situations.
  • Apathy, no initiative to participate in society or other groups previously keen on.
  • Totally illogical thinking, believing in personal powers, magical beliefs.
  • Disconnection, from surroundings, a sense of unreal situations.
  • Nervous; constant fear, paranoia about unseen followers etc.
  • Oddness; unusual behaviour, peculiar statements.
  • Suicidal thoughts, voices.

Treatment with medication such as antipsychotics, anxiolytics and antidepressants can bring urgent relief.

Considerable progress has been made in the treatment of psychiatric diseases for the last decades thanks to the discovery of the psychotropic properties of certain drugs. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, anxiolytics, and other mood stabilizing agents were discovered in the later years of the last century and brought about a revolution in the clinical practice of psychiatrists.
There is now availability of really effective drugs for alleviating patients from major mental diseases.

Before this pharmacotherapy, psychiatry was confined to almost ancient practices. Nowadays the medical profession accepts it as a clinical discipline the same as for other organic or infectious diseases.

Research is ongoing into the treatment with certain drugs, and knowledge is increasing and constantly bringing improvements to the main psychiatric disorders currently treated with psychotropic drugs: depressive disorders, psychoses and schizophrenia, anxiety, and attention deficit and hyperactive disorders.

Computers and Digital Technological Assistance

Techniques such as Neuroimaging with brain scans have helped scientists identify and separate the effects of the modern drugs, targeting the particular disorders with better accuracy. Computers used in what are commonly identified as CT, MRI, and PET scans have helped provide visualizations of the nervous system, which in turn greatly advances modern medicine, neuroscience, and psychology.

Psychiatrists and Psychologists now have much improved treatments in their armoury and there is no longer any reason to be scared of going to a mental health professional. We should now change the public perception of them and stop using terms such as ‘shrink’ or ‘head doctors.’ They are just as trained and specialised with modern scientific assistance as other medical disciplines.

Medications are now commonly used in treating several mental disorders and conditions. In addition, treatment may also include psychotherapy (also called “talk therapy”) and brain stimulation therapies (less common). In some cases, psychotherapy alone may be the best treatment option. Choosing the right treatment plan should be based on a person’s individual needs and medical situation, and always under a mental health professional’s care.

Mental Health Medications


Antidepressants are medications commonly used to treat depression. Antidepressants are also used for other health conditions, such as anxiety, pain, and insomnia. 

Anti-Anxiety Medications:

Anti-anxiety medications help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, such as panic attacks, or extreme fear and worry.


Stimulants increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as elevate blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. Stimulant medications are often prescribed to treat children, adolescents, or adults diagnosed with ADHD.

Antipsychotic medicines are primarily used to manage psychosis. The word “psychosis” is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, and in which there has been some loss of contact with reality, often including delusions, false beliefs, or hallucinations. It can be a symptom of a physical condition such as drug abuse or a mental disorder such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or very severe depression.

Antipsychotic medications are often used in combination with other medications to treat delirium, dementia, and other mental health conditions, including ADHD, Severe Depression, Eating Disorders, PTSD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorders, Generalised Anxiety Disorders. Antipsychotic medicines do not completely cure these conditions. They are used to help relieve symptoms and improve quality of life.

Several of the more modern antipsychotics have a broader action than the older medications and are used for treating bipolar depression or depression that has not responded to an antidepressant medication alone.

Mood Stabilizers:

Mood stabilizers are used primarily to treat bipolar disorder, mood swings associated with other mental disorders, and in some cases, to augment the effect of other medications used to treat depression. Lithium is well known and is an effective mood stabilizer. It is approved for the treatment of mania and the maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder. A number of studies describe the anti-suicide benefits of lithium for individuals on long-term maintenance. These mood stabilizers work by decreasing abnormal activity in the brain.


Book: Antidepressants, Antipsychotics, Anxiolytics From Chemistry and Pharmacology to Clinical Application Volume 1 Edited by Helmut Buschmann, José Luis Díaz, Jörg Holenz, Antonio Párraga, Antoni Torrens and José Miguel Vela

By Brian George

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