drug treatments for depression

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PSYCHOPATHOLOGY
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Developed in the 1960s
Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
Increase the amount of Noradrenaline
(Norepinephrine) in the synapse
By inhibiting the action of Monoamines
(enzymes which break Noradrenaline down)
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MAOIs are effective
BUT
Have unwanted side-effects
Even life threatening
Certain foods react adversely with the drug.
Usually only prescribed when other meds
have proved ineffective.
TRICYCLIC ANTIDEPRESSANTS
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Raise levels of
serotonin and
Noradrenaline in
the brain.
Block the reuptake of
Noradrenaline.
MORE NORADRENALINE
AVAILABLE IN THE SYNAPSE
TRICYCLICS
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Shown to be quite
effective and have
fewer side-effects
than MAOIs.
BUT
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Do not focus on
Noradrenaline only.
They block the
reuptake of
Serotonin as well.
SSRI DRUGS
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Focus on serotonin
And block its re-uptake.
E.g. Prozac
EVALUATION
Originally thought to be
free from side-effects and
prescribed liberally.
 Doubts raised concerning
suicide
 But this could be due to a
very depressed person
beginning to get better and
more motivated to act on
suicidal thoughts.
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All drugs have potential side-effects.
Some work for one person and not for
another.
Some cause drowsiness
Some are lethal if overdosed on.
This makes them unsuitable if a person is
potentially suicidal.
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Drug therapies (particularly tricyclics and
MAOIs have an almost immediate effect on
neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
However, symptoms of low mood do not lift
for a few weeks.
This raises questions about the causal link
between low levels of neurotransmitters and
depression.
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Difficult to assess.
Medication seems to be more effective than
placebos (Thase and Kupfer, 1996).
However, depression incorporates a wide
range of symptoms which may respond
differently to different treatments.
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Symptoms often return when drugs are no
longer taken.
Drugs have to be taken for some time after
the patient has shown improvement.
This is known as ‘maintenance therapy’ and
significantly reduces the risk of relapse.
Furthermore, it is difficult to assess whether a
person is cured or not.
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Faulty logic suggests that because a
particular drug provides relief from
symptoms and raises the levels of a particular
chemical in the brain, it must be the lack of
that particular chemical that is the underlying
cause.
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