Microsoft word - 1009 better living through chemistry.doc

Medications that help emotional problems were discovered in the 1950s. For many years, they were only used to help symptoms of disturbed mood, anxiety and thought. In the 1990s, some doctors started using them to help dysfunctional personality traits. To understand this change, it helps to know how these drugs affect the major players in biopsychology—secretions of glands (hormones) and neurons (neurotransmitters): • Adrenaline—prepares for action by increasing blood flow and muscle tension. • Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—inhibits the action of adrenaline. • Norepinephrine—enables the nervous system to respond to incoming stimuli. • Serotonin—balances the action of Dopamine and Norepinephrine. • MAO (monoamine oxidase) is an enzyme that breaks down adrenaline and serotonin. • Endorphins—bind to opiate receptors in the brain and cause suppression of pain. • Dopamine—enhances pleasure and stimulation. Too much produces racing (distorted) thoughts. Too little causes problems focusing and inhibiting movement. Psychotropic Medications
Reduce racing thoughts and distorted thinking and serotonin): Thorazine, Stelazine, Prolixin, Haldol, perceptions. Improve thought organization. MS—Mood Stabilizers and Anticonvulsants Reduce racing thoughts, impulsivity, agitation, and reduce brain excitability: Lithium, Depakote, anger. Lithium can boost serotonin and enhance Stm.— Stimulants boost activity of dopamine and Increase activity in the brain cortex improving the norepinephrine: Ritalin, Dexedrin, Adderal, ability to inhibit movement, screen out irrelevant BZ— Benzodiazepines stimulate the activity of Reduce anxiety. It is best to use them briefly or as GABA which counter-acts adrenaline reactions: Xanax, Klonopin, Tranxene, Valium, Ativan OB—Opioid Blockers inhibit the effects of Reduce pleasure from alcohol use and craving and opioids: Revia. Kudzu, an herb, may affect the may also reduce self-mutilation, which can breakdown of alcohol and boost endorphins. (MAOIs)— MAO inhibitors increase levels of Help atypical depression with low energy, anxiety, adrenaline and serotonin by stopping their over eating, and poor sleep without low mood. TCAs—Tricyclic antidepressants increase the flow Enhance mood, interest, and motivation. Many can of norepinephrine and serotonin: Elavil, Sinequan, SSRIs—Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors Enhance mood, interest, and motivation and increase serotonin flow: Prozac, Paxil,* Zoloft, decrease obsessions, compulsions, anger, DM—Designer medications target specific neurotransmitters: Desyrel, Asendin, Serzone* hyperactivity and smoking and improve attention. TREATMENT FOR TRAITS
The use of medication to modify personality makes sense if traits are thought of as symptoms of reduced intensity that become habits over time. Characteristics of various personalities are reworded below to suggest underlying symptoms or biochemistry. Often doses to modify traits are less than amounts needed to relieve symptoms. Drugs won’t cure self-defeating habits, but they can alter temperament in a way that gives change a chance. See the previous chart to identify classes of medication used to treat symptoms: Personality Types and Traits
Symptoms Treaated
Dependent and Erratic Personalities
Fear of rejection or helplessness
Obsessions or depression about perceived rejection Mood swings and difficulty regulating mood Compulsions to self mutilate, substance abuse Suspicions, thought disorganization, irrational thinking Dramatic and Inflated Personalities
Rejection sensitivity
Obsessive attention to physical appearance Sexually seductive/provocative, inappropriately intimate Exaggerated self-importance, fantasies of success Compulsive and Guarded Personalities
Obsessed with details, rules, morality, saving, loyalty, trust
Compulsive striving for perfection, devotion to work Avoidant, Isolated, Eccentric Personalities
Social avoidance and obsessive rejection sensitivity
Difficulty experiencing pleasure or interest in sex Distorted, vague, symbolic, elaborate speech Defiant Personalities
Hyper type impulsivity
Irresponsibility due to difficulty staying on task


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Phs 398 (rev. 9/04), biographical sketch format page

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