Drug therapy has been notably effective with 4 types of disorder, those in which schizophrenia, mania, depression & anxiety play important roles. 4 types of drugs are generally used.
1. Antipsychotic drugs are used primarily to treat people who have schizophrenia.
2. Antimanic drugs are used to treat those who have a bipolar disorder.
3. Antidepressant drugs are used to treat patients who have been diagnosed as having mood disorder of unipolar type i.e. characterized by relatively long lasting depression but without any history of manic or hypomanic episodes.
4. Antianxiety drugs are used to treat people who have a high level or prolonged state of anxiety that is strong enough to incapacitate them, or at least cause them difficulty in carrying out many activities in daily life.
These types of medicines differ in their effectiveness, mechanism of action, & side effects. The antipsychotic drugs usually produce improvement in 4 to 6 weeks. Effects of antimanic drugs are usually noticeable within a week. Antimanic drugs are often effective by themselves, but at times, they must be combined with an antipsychotic drug in highly agitated patients. The therapeutic effect of antidepressants usually requires 2 to 4 weeks to be apparent. Antianxiety drugs, whose therapeutic effects may be noticed within a week, are usually employed for limited time periods to avoid the problem of drug dependence.
Though psychoactive drugs have helped many people live normal or almost normal life & their safety has improved, there are many unanswered questions about them. A number of risks still be considered, including a variety of side effects. Depending on the drug employed, side effects may include drowsiness, confusion, nightmares, poor appetite, insomnia, blurred vision, lethargy, changes in BP etc. Some of the drugs may be fatal if the patient's condition is not monitored regularly. Some of the drugs expose the patient to the risk of having fatal overdose available. Like those of psychological therapies, the effects of drug therapy are not always predictable. Factors, such as age, sex & genetic background can influence a person's response to drugs. The effectiveness of a particular drug may also depend on how it is metabolized, whether the patient takes it as prescribed, & whether other drugs are being taken at the same time.