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#1 Medications and Supplements

Part 1: Basic principles

Medications and supplements for mental care

Psychiatric medications

Medications and supplements are chemical substances. A chemical substance that changes one's brain function is called a psychoactive drug. The reason behind using medications for mental care is to use psychoactive drugs to biochemically control how you feel and think. Such treatment should only be necessary for disabling problems that cannot be regulated by other modes of mental care. In practice, however, medications are far more commonly prescribed than is necessary. [1]

Psychiatric medications are psychoactive drugs that act on chemical messengers in our body called neurotransmitters and hormones. [2] Neurotransmitters travel across synapses, while hormones travel through the circulatory system from glands to target organs.

For example, a chemical substance called Benzodiazepines (BZD) is known to enhance the effect of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). BZD is now one of the most common medications for treating anxiety. [3]

Enhancing the effect of neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine) has been hypothesized to reduce the symptoms of depression. A concept born in the 1950s called "the monoamine hypothesis of depression" postulates that a deficit of certain monoamines is responsible for certain features of depression; therefore, increasing the level of monoamines would result in improved alertness, energy, attention, motivation, and pleasure. [4]

Almost all antidepressants used today are based on this hypothesis; however, the hypothesis has not actually been proven. Limitations have been uncovered, and the medications' efficacy has been criticized. [5]

In the U.S., prescription and over-the-counter medications are regulated and must be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be marketed.



Dietary supplements are also chemical substances, but the goal is to provide nutrients, not treatment. The definition of dietary supplements as described by the FDA is as follows:

Consumers should be aware of the following fact regarding supplements. The FDA recognizes supplements as foods and "does not have the authority to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness before they are marketed." [7]

FDA considers supplements as food

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Home  >  Mental care principles  >  #1 Medications

Next, we explore the types of medications and supplements.

>>> Part 2: Types of medications