Psychopharmacology and Mental Health
An interesting finding is that patients who use nicotine and suffer from psychosis, seem to have improved cognitive functioning (Brisch, 2014). Overall, antipsychotic drugs seem to react with both DA and 5-HT receptors in attempt to reduce symptoms of psychosis. Although side effects such as weight gain, sedation, and EPS are negative side effects in all of these drugs, they are producing positive results in reducing psychotic symptoms.
Medication Side Effects and Combined Comprehensive Approaches
Antipsychotics suppress the positive symptoms—but often leave the patients with continuous signs of negative symptoms along with the side effects from the medication (Nieman, 2015). Due to this, a high percentage of patients (40-50%) do not comply with their clinician’s instructions to properly take the medication and seventy-four percent discontinue within eighteen months (Nieman, 2015). This high rate of non-compliance calls for a combined approach to treatment of mental illness that includes psychotic symptoms. Health-care practitioners are starting to use the term brain health, instead of mental illness, to treat more severe cases and are integrating complex assessments to address severe symptoms as mentioned above.
Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to significantly improve psychotic symptoms for those who have chosen not to take antipsychotic medication (Nieman, 2015). There have been studies on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), with patients suffering mainly from psychosis symptoms that include persecutory delusions, that have shown favorable results such as a ninety-five percent reduction in both worry and persecutory delusions (Nieman, 2015).
This reduction in both obsessive/worrisome thoughts and persecutory delusions led to a significant overall improvement in the patients’ psychiatric symptoms as a whole (Nieman, 2015). Although this brings other questions to surface, overall CBT is a very promising approach and has an important contribution to the treatment of psychosis. Finally, studies involving EEG brainwave training (neurofeedback) are revealing dramatic improvements and positive long-term outcomes for patients who suffer from severe mental illness such as schizophrenia.
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