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What are psychiatric medications?

Psychiatric medication is a psychoactive drug taken to exert an effect on the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system. These medications are used to treat mental disorders. Usually prescribed in psychiatric settings, these medications are typically made of synthetic chemical compounds, although some are naturally occurring, or at least naturally derived. Since the mid-20th century, such medications have been leading treatments for a broad range of mental disorders and have decreased the need for long-term hospitalization therefore lowering the cost of mental health care.

Psychiatric medications carry risk for adverse effects. The occurrence of adverse effects can potentially reduce drug compliance. Some adverse effects can be treated symptomatically by using adjunct medications. Some withdrawal effects, including the possibility of a sudden or severe emergence or re-emergence of psychosis, may appear when the drugs are discontinued, or discontinued too rapidly. One should not change the dosage or discontinue the medications without medical guidance.

Who can prescribe psychiatric medications?

Your Primary Care Physician, Physician’s Assistant or Nurse Practitioner (depending on your state) are often qualified to provide medication. However, they do not have specialized training in mental health diagnosis or in prescribing psychiatric medications. Whenever possible, it is prudent to receive psychiatric medications from a psychiatrist.