Drugs-Unit 2-AQA

Summary of information of what you need to know for drugs including AO2 points

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What is the Drug and how does it work?
Antipsychotic drug ­ Eg, chlorpromazine. Theses are used to combat the symptoms
of schizophrenia as schizophrenia is associated with high levels of dopamine. These
block the actions of the neurotransmitter, dopamine which reduces hallucinations
and other symptoms related to schizophrenia.
Antidepressants ­ Depression is caused by insufficient amounts of neurotransmitters
(such as serotonin).The most common are SSRI's which work by preventing the
reuptake (absorption) of serotonin back into the nerve. This results in more
serotonin in the synapse which helps to lift moods.
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be taken for:
moderate and severe depression
generalised anxiety disorder
obsessive compulsive disorder
Also, some SSRIs may be taken for:
the eating disorder bulimia nervosa (fluoxetine)
panic disorder (citalopram, escitalopram and paroxetine)
posttraumatic stress disorder (paroxetine and sertraline)
Effectiveness ­ World Health Organisation 2001 showed that relapse rate after one
year was higher (55%) when schizophrenics were treated with placebos. This
suggests that the drugs play and important role, although treatment with drug alone is
less effective than when drugs are combined with psychological support.
Ease of use ­ it requires little efforts from the user which is considerably less than
therapies such as psychoanalysis.
Placebo effects ­ the effectiveness of the drug may be due to its psychological effect
as well as its chemical effect. Kirsch et al (2002) reviewed 38 studies of
antidepressants and found that patients who received placebos fared almost as well
as those receiving the real drug. Mulrow et al (2000)compared the use of tricyclics
and placebos in 28 studies and found a success rate of 35% for placebo and 60%
for tricyclics
Tackles symptoms rather than problem ­ only a temporary alleviation of symptoms.
If the patient stop taking the drug then symptoms may reappear. For longterm
treatment it might be better to seek a treatment that would deal with the problem
Side Effects ­ SSRI's may cause anxiety, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, nausea and
suicidal thoughts. The side effects can lead patients to decide to not take the drug.


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