A psychiatric medication is a licensed psychoactive drug taken to exert an effect on the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system. Thus, these medications are used to treatmental 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.
There are six main groups of psychiatric medications.
- Antidepressants, which treat disparate disorders such as clinical depression, dysthymia, anxiety, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder.
- Stimulants, which treat disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy, and to suppress the appetite.
- Antipsychotics, which treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms occurring in the context of other disorders such as mood disorders.
- Mood stabilizers, which treat bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder.
- Anxiolytics, which treat anxiety disorders.
- Depressants, which are used as hypnotics, sedatives, and anesthetics.