Mental health articles

OF mental health care and mentally ill

Pharmacological Intervention Definition


Drug therapy can be used to combat feelings of anxiety in an attempt to improvethe person’s quality of life. It is worth remembering that the use of prescribedmedication is not usually the first line of treatment, as other methods of careinterventions will be considered initially. However, there are times when the useof prescribed drugs is indicated, especially when the level of anxiety is so greatthat it does not allow the person to act or think rationally, let alone function. Drugscan generally be employed at this time to help reduce the level of anxiety in orderto facilitate relaxation in the person, or while allowing other interventions such astherapy to be carried out. Healy  suggests the use of various categories ofdrugs that can be effective in combating anxiety states.Benzodiazepine anxiolytic drugs such as diazepam (Valium) are commonly used,but media coverage in the late 1980s and early 1990s reported the addictive effects ofsuch drugs. Benzodiazepines can be long-, short- or medium-acting drugs.

However,they should be limited to the minimum dose for a specific duration and their efficacysubsequently reassessed.Antidepressants can also be prescribed, namely selective serotonin reuptakeinhibitors (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidaseinhibitors (MAOIs). SSRIs are recognised for treating various anxiety disordersand are less addictive than benzodiazepines. TCAs were discovered in the 1950sand can be beneficial in treating panic disorder, since these drugs have a sedativecomponent. MAOIs are effective in dealing with phobias, but these are seldomused. This is because they interact easily with other drugs and can also interactwith certain foods containing yeast or meat extracts, for example Bovril, Marmiteand Oxo, as well as mature cheese, pickled herring and plain chocolate. MAOIs areusually used as a last resort following the failure of all other drug therapy.Beta-blockers are also used for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder, butthese drugs as a rule are used to treat high blood pressure and other associatedcardiac problems. They are effective in blocking the lateral symptoms of anxietysuch as trembling, increased heart rate etc.

However, it must be pointed out thatthese drugs are ineffective when dealing with panic disorder.During drug interventions for any disorder, it is essential to remember that alldrugs have side effects, some of which can be very unpleasant and frightening. Theymay lead to an exacerbation of an already recognised disorder, such as anxiety.It is imperative that a correct diagnosis is established before any drug therapyis initiated. While the person is receiving specific drug therapy, it is crucial thatthey are monitored and reviewed at regular intervals by a qualified health careprofessional to explore and determine the efficacy of the prescribed drug therapy.This, in turn, must be documented in the case notes (or other records relating to theperson) by the health care professional.

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