What Is Clinical Psychopharmacology?

The hardships of everyday life have shed light on the rising rates of mental illness. Although this news is alarming, it has encouraged many people to address their issues head-on with the help of mental health professionals. While talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral practices, and lifestyle changes are practical approaches for some patients, others need medication to help manage their mental illness. That’s where psychopharmacology comes into the picture. 

Medication In Therapy

Psychopharmacology is essentially the study of how specific medications impact the mind. It’s essentially the process of using psychotic medicine to treat mental health conditions ranging from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Psychologists interested in writing prescriptions must obtain a degree in Clinical Psychopharmacology

What Are Psychoactive Drugs? 

Psychoactive medications are drugs used to treat mental illness. Some of the most common include: 

  • Anxiolytics –  These are medications used to treat anxiety. They ease symptoms by interacting with neurotransmitters in the brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid. 
  • Stimulants – Stimulants are widely used to treat patients with ADHD. The medication helps to enhance focus, alertness, and energy. 
  • Antidepressants – As the name implies, antidepressants are used to treat symptoms of depression. They can help improve appetite, boost energy, and restore motivation. Research suggests antidepressants can stimulate new cell growth, thus improving cognitive and behavioral function. 

Why Psychopharmacology Matters

Psychologists have a plethora of tools at their disposal to treat patients who have a mental illness. While these methodologies and practices are instrumental and effective, medications can help relieve symptoms and speed up recovery efforts. Psychologists can develop a more comprehensive treatment plan with few side effects and improved results by clearly understanding how psychoactive drugs impact patients physically, mentally, and behaviorally. 

Psychopharmacology should matter to patients as well. As medications can alter your mind, mood, behavior, and overall well-being, you want to ensure that you’re getting the best option for your health and wellness. If prescriptions are necessary, having a psychologist with psychopharmacology experience provides peace of mind. 

It means your therapist will be more effective in selecting drugs that will work well with your body’s natural system, including the type, dosage, and length of use. It reduces the likelihood of adverse effects and substance dependency, which is common with psychoactive drugs. Finally, more accurate treatments and fewer symptoms from mental illness lead to improvements in everyday life. 

Becoming A Psychopharmacologist

If you’re interested in offering medication as an option for your patients, becoming a psychopharmacologist makes sense. Adding this invaluable specialization to your list of credentials will vary by state. In general, you’ll need to enroll in an accredited program to obtain your Master’s or Doctoral degree in psychopharmacology. Completing the course requirements typically takes two years and several hours of in-field training. 

To take the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board Exam, you’ll need to meet strict requirements, including having a stellar record as a psychologist and proof of service. A passing score gives you the legal certification to prescribe medication to patients. 

Advice For Patients

There is no one-size-fits-all therapy treatment. That’s why psychologists use a variety of methodologies. Medication may be necessary if you’ve tried general counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and lifestyle changes with little to no impact on your mental illness. Ultimately, it’s best to consult with mental health experts with a psychopharmacology degree as you search for therapists. 

As you evaluate prospective candidates, don’t hesitate to ask about their credentials and approach to incorporating medicine into their practice. Find out what types of mental illness they specialize in and the effectiveness of prescriptions in easing patient symptoms. Discuss your diagnosis and attempted treatments to get an idea of what route they would take in helping you to get more efficient care. 

Better Mental Health Care

When you consider the millions of people struggling with mental illness that cannot find relief through traditional mental health practices, you comprehend the significance of psychopharmacology. Therapists that invest in their education and experience in this field are better equipped to prescribe medications that work best for their patients. When combined with alternative therapies, it can ultimately lead to improved patient physical and emotional well-being. So, whether you’re a psychologist looking to enhance your practice or a patient looking for a therapist, consider psychopharmacology and its many advantages to emotional wellness.