Biological treatments

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Outline; biological treatments

Act on biological mechanisms that cause/involved in mental illness; altering function/availability of neurotransmitter, change cells function, remove dysfunctional parts. 

Drugs; change amount of NT at synapse. NT cause behaviour, stopping them working, less available, reduce behaviour it causes. Increase quantity of NT, behaviour affected increase. Serotonin involved in depression. SSRIs stopping nerve cells reabsorbing serotonin released into synapse, more serotonin available. Effective for depression; Prozac. Benzodiazepine; anxiety, high blood pressure. Blocking receptors activated by adrenaline/noradrenaline, body less able to produce extreme sympathetic nervous system responses. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Stop enzyme monoamine oxidase breaking down noradrenaline, increase noradrenaline at synapse. Low-levels> depression, MAOIs, antidepressant. Antipsychotic drugs, schizophrenia, reducing amounts of dopamine at synapses.

Electroconvulsive therapy; electrodes to head, electric current through brain,convulsive fit. Effective at treating severe depression when no respond to antidepressant drugs. Psychosurgery; brain surgery. Invasive, remove brain tissue, effects irreversible/unpredictable. Developed for schizophrenia; Lobotomies destroying areas of pre-frontal cortex; planning/free will, patients compliant, less aggressive/easy to control. Rare procedures; extreme cases of OCD, removal of tumours that cause behaviour change.

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Evaluate; biological treatments

Anti-psychotics;effective for schizophrenia; lends support to this as an effective treatment. ECT - effective short-term for those suffering depression, support as effective treatment of psychopathologies. Psychosurgery effective for some patients, last resort when others ineffective; although controversial. Some cases, treatment retain value and usefulness.

Drug treatments have side effects; often distressing/life effecting as psychopathology itself. Only cures symptoms of disorder rather than underlying psychological issue; based on the medical model from the biological approach. Underlying causes won’t be treated once the drug therapy stop being taken the symptoms re-appear. Patient dependent on the drug; find that this is the only way their symptoms do not return. Patient tolerant of the drug, require ever increasing doses; Over time, need to take more of drug to reduce symptoms. Could make patient more tolerant to effects of drug, require increasing dose strengths. Drug dependency in the long-term. Severe side effects of ECT – as damaging as the psychopathology itself. Ethical consideration whether patients who receive ECT have fully consented to this treatment. Psychosurgery - controversial -no way to reverse effects; rarely used nowadays. Ethical issue once treatment done, cant be reversed, so if any damage caused, has to live like this forever.

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