Psychopharmacology and Mental Health

Psychopharmacology and Mental Health

In fact, through the use of certain drugs such as neuroleptics, drugs that helps to reduce nervous tension by depressing nerve functions, and the DA precursor L-Dopa, clinicians have developed a better understanding of the biology of psychosis (Brisch, 2014). Neuroleptics are DA receptor antagonists and, when prescribed, can cause parkinsonian symptoms (Brisch, 2014). These are known as extra pyramidal system (EPS) side effects. These side effects are caused by increased dopamine in the nigrostriatal pathway. The DA precursor L-Dopa is a DA receptor agonist and, when prescribed, can actually cause symptoms of psychosis (Meyer, 2019). This is also true for stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamine, which increase dopamine levels and have to potential to induce psychosis. Neuroleptics (typical antipsychotics) medications are high affinity D2 receptor antagonists (Meyer, 2019).  These findings further conclude the DA receptor hypothesis for psychosis.

Due to the promising findings of the DA hypothesis, researchers have sought to find the direct cause of psychosis by looking at DA subtypes. DA receptors are G-protein-coupled receptors and can be divided into D1, D2, D3, and D4 receptors respectively (Brisch, 2014). Brain imaging studies show that individuals who suffer from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, selectively inhibit D2 receptors in the striatum, and serotonin (5-HT) 2A receptors in the PFC, which results in increased dopamine activity (Brisch, 2014). It was also found that the D2 receptor is required to be at least eighty percent occupied in order to effectively treat the positive effects of psychosis (Brisch, 2014). Based on this finding, we now know that not all positive and negative symptoms of psychosis are caused by this receptor alone. This challenged the DA hypothesis and called for a new theory of causation.


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Christy and Brigitte LewisChristy Lewis holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Texas at Arlington and a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from The Professional School of Psychology.. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and has counseled for a combined 17 years in several clinical and medical settings and has offered career/life coaching for an additional 10 years. Christy is also Board Certified in Biofeedback and Neurofeedback through BCIA, the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance organization.Brigitte graduated in August 2020 from Baylor University in Waco, Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience. She is currently working toward her BCN (Board Certification in Neurofeedback) certification. Brigitte currently works at the Biofeedback, Education, & Training Center in Plano, Texas as a Sleep/Health Coach and Clinical Intake Coordinator. Sleep/Health Coaching includes providing new clients with educational information regarding behavioral changes and sleep hygiene to help improve overall perceived sleep quality. In the future, Brigitte plans to attend graduate school to study Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on sleep quality and how it affects overall health.

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