Depression and Psychopharmacology

Statistics shows that in the modern world non-psychotic illnesses are met very often. They are significantly more widespread than psychotic disorders and bring suffering and death. Common misunderstanding of mental illnesses and the established contemptuous attitude of people and doctors represent main obstacles to the successful cure of mentally ill people. Recently, the progress of psychiatric investigation threw the light on the occurrence, reasons, cure, and consequences of different mental illnesses.

Depression is one of them. It was determined that depression, especially its serious cases, really needs psychopharmacological interference (Murray, Lopez , 1996). Thorough investigations are currently held in order to find new medicines to help people suffering from depression. The given paper will discuss the new antidepressants in comparison to old and explain their advantages. The ways of depression treatment Two main ways to treat depression were defined: psychoanalysis and psychopharmacology.

Psychoanalysis is an approach proposed by Freud that implies regular conversation with psychotherapist about ideas and feelings a sick person has. This approach is widely used in developed countries where visits to psychotherapist are usual and included in everyday life of many people (Murray, Lopez , 1996). Psychopharmacology represents a mix of psychotherapy and medications and currently used for more serious cases of depression.

Psychiatrists who use psychopharmacology suppose that the main problem of their patient is in his/her brain and only medicines can help change brain processes, while psychotherapy is not enough (Murray, Lopez 4). The advantages and disadvantages of new antidepressants Antidepressants were unexpectedly invented at the beginning of the twentieth century. Before, the most widely applied antidepressants were tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) as the most popular, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) (Settle EC. , 1998).

However, around twenty years ago, new antidepressants were created for treatment of depression. The creation of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and their application as newly developed medicine for depression shows that the improvement of antigepressants changed from unexpected invention to rational and thought-over mechanism. The investigations in this field advanced doctors’ and researchers’ understanding of the fundamentals of mental illnesses and application of medicines for them. Anderson (1998) stated:

In parallel with the development of new antidepressants, there has been a rapid advancement of neuro science and a greatly enhanced understanding of the various subtypes of 5HT and NA receptors. Seven major subtypes of serotonin receptor have been cloned so far. They differ in terms of pharmacological property, signal transduction mechanism, and gene sequence. The 5HT receptor is both a somatic autoceptor that controls the firing rate of 5HT neurons and a postsynaptic receptor. It thus closely governs mood regulation (p. 2). The most important gain of new medicines is their security in case of overdose.

The recently developed drugs are more and more recommended in preference to the usual TCAs. A good reason for this application is the danger of lawful and medical consequence after TCAs’ application while more secure substitute medicines are obtainable (Hirschfeld RM, Keller MB, Panico S, et al. , 1997). Various tests and investigations testified that the new medicines have an analogous effectiveness to TCAs. Nevertheless, debates take place over the question if the new drugs, mainly SSRIs, have a worse effect. Song F, Freemantle N, Sheldon TA, et al (1993) stated:

Whether SSRIs can work as effectively as TCAs in treating severe depression is also controversial. In a recent meta-analysis comparing 25 studies of SSRIs and TCAs that were used to treat depressed in-patients, the dual-action TCAs were found to have superior efficacy but were more poorly tolerated than SSRIs (p. 24). Before, the investigations did not show any advantages of SSRIs over old and tested TCAs. Further thorough investigation showed that the effect of SSRIs is really weaker but not significantly. However, in spite of the risk of self-murder, many people still choose the TCAs.