Psychopharmacology and Mental Health
Psychotropic drugs are prescribed to a patient after diagnosis to help diminish the positive and negative symptoms and hopefully improve their quality of life. To further complicate the condition, psychosis is typically comorbid with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, mood and substance use disorders, and many developmental, acquired, and degenerative neurologic and medical conditions (Arciniegas, 2015). Before describing the different sections of the brain that are dysregulated in patients who are afflicted with psychosis, common neurobiological factors in this spectrum of patients will be addressed in order to better understand how antipsychotic drugs can affect an individual’s unique neurobiology. Finally, common neurotransmitters, which are found in deficit or excess, will be examined along with the systems they affect.
Psychosis, along with various other serious mental health issues, is usually diagnosed by using both informal and structured clinical assessments for the presence of positive and/or negative symptoms that are clearly defined common features of psychosis (Arciniegas, 2015). There are many observable behaviors and neurobiological factors clinicians must consider before properly diagnosing and treating someone with a mental health problem. An example of a clinical assessment used to diagnose someone with psychosis is the use of biomarkers (Venigalla, 2017). This is a fairly new approach in diagnosing mental disorders and can help physicians prescribe psychotropic medication(s) that better match the individual’s unique chemical imbalances.
A biomarker is defined as a characteristic that is objectively measured and evaluated as an indicator of normal biologic processes, pathologic processes or biological responses to a therapeutic intervention (Venigalla, 2017). In other words, a biomarker can be a gene or a group of genes, proteins or other biomolecules (Venigalla, 2017). It is important to note that the development of psychosis is the result from both gene and environment interaction. For example, Schizophrenia is a neurodevelopmental disorder that results from the abnormal development of the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus (Meyer, 2019). The first line of treatment for schizophrenia is usually to reactivate the homeostatic nature of the patient’s dopamine system (Meyer, 2019). Unfortunately, the persistent disconnection between the anatomical and pharmacological aspects of the disorder is still unknown.
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