Psychology - Biological treatments

Psychology - Biological treatments

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The nevous system consists of many nerve cells called neurones. They send electrical messages along their length and communicate with each other using chemicals called neurotransmitters. This chemical transmission of messages means that the introduction of other chemicals can alter brain function. Drug molecules can enter the gaps between neurones (synapse) and affect the activity of the neurone (inhibit or excite). This means drugs can artificially influence emotions, cognitions and behaviour.

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SSRIs - One important group of drugs are called SSRIs include Prozac, and are used for patients with depression. Many people who suffer from depressionhave low levels of the neurontransmitter Serotonin. Drug molecules can enter the synapse and can block the gates on the pre-synaptic neurone. This means serotionin is unable to be re-taken and recycled so more stays in the synapse. This means there is more serotonin in the synapse to excite neighbouring neurones. As serotonin is an excitory neurontransmitter, it alleviates the patient's depressed mood and reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

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Traditional antipsychotics block the receptors in the synapse that absorb dopamine. Second-generation antipsychotics can also block receptors but have fewer side effects.

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The procedure involves administering an electric shock for a fraction of a second to the head, thus including a seizure, similar to that experienced in epilepsy, lasting between 15-60 seconds. It is usually given to both sides of the brain and repeated 6-12 times around 2-3 times per week.

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