PSYA4 Depression Essay 3 - Biological Treatments

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Here is the third essay that could come up on depression. 

Essay 3:

Discuss biological treatments for ONE mental disorder. (Depression) (8+16)

  • Clinicians often use a mixture of biological and psychological therapies to treat depression. This is known as an integrative approach (AKA eclectic approach). 1st Generation drugs, such as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI's) have bad side effects so are only used when other drug therapies have failed to work. Tricyclics have fewer side effects. 2nd Generation drugs, such as SSRI's, target just the serotonin levels and are considered more specific to depression.
  • There are gender differences in reactions to drugs. Women tend to respond well to MAOI's and men respond well to Tricyclics.
  • These drugs were developed in the 1960's. MAOI's prevent breakdown of serotonin, dopamine and noradrenaline. Tricyclics prevet re-absorption of serotonin and adrenaline at the synaptic gap. This increases their level. These drugs are highly toxic and should not be given to patients with a suicide risk.

+ Patients vary in their response to the vaious drugs, so it is important to have more than one type (which it does).

- All drugs can cause unwanted side effects such as nausea, vomiting, addiction and dependance on the drug.

- Most drugs have an immediate effect on neurotransmission but do not affect mood for several weeks. It isn't fully understood why this is and it leads to the treatment process being more complex. 

+ Their effect suggests that there is a causal link between levels of brain monoamines and depression.

  • There are some newer drugs that are used to treat depression. Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRI's) such as Prozac, prevent serotonin being reabsorbed and broken down after crossing the synapse. However, serotonin is produced in the stomach and the drugs cause nausea. There have also been reports of a link between these drugs…


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