ClickCease Common Mental Health Medications: List, Side Effects, Uses | Granite

Commonly Prescribed Mental Health Medications for Depression, Anxiety, & More

Mental health medications play a role in addressing a spectrum of mental health disorders. If you are ready to make an informed decision about your treatment, take time to familiarize yourself with commonly prescribed medications, their specific uses, and potential side effects.

Whether exploring antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, or anti-anxiety medications, you want to gain a thorough understanding of these medications. Armed with this knowledge, clients and their families can navigate potential challenges associated with mental health medications, ensuring a better-informed approach to mental well-being.

List of Common Mental Health Medications

Several types of medications can help to alleviate the symptoms of mental health issues. However, any evaluation and prescription of common mental health medications should be completed by a licensed medical professional. Mental health is a complex and individualized aspect of healthcare; what may work for one person may not be suitable for another.

Those who need medication for their mental health concerns will want to have information about the medications’ applications and possible side effects. Before starting treatment, always consult with a qualified healthcare provider. With that, you can determine the most appropriate course of action tailored to your unique needs and circumstances.

Common Antidepressants: Explanation and Uses

Antidepressants are an important part of treating mood disorders. They are designed to help relieve the symptoms of depression and other related mental health conditions. These medications work within the brain’s neural pathways and regulate the chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters.

They work to transmit signals between nerve cells. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine are the key neurotransmitters that these medications target.

Different types of antidepressants work in unique ways to address individual cases. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) carefully target serotonin reuptake to boost its availability in synaptic clefts. Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) impede serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake. The third class, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), modulate neurotransmitter levels by hindering the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase.

What kind of medications treat mental health? Here is a brief overview of these mental health drugs:

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors target serotonin. They inhibit the reuptake of the presynaptic neuron. With increased serotonin levels in the synaptic cleft, these medications increase neurotransmission. Medical providers prescribe these drugs for:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors hinder the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. In turn, that can lead to increased levels of both neurotransmitters in the synaptic cleft. Like SSRIs, these medications can treat:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder

They can also help with specific chronic pain conditions.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) block the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. By inhibiting this breakdown, MAOIs increase the availability of these neurotransmitters. These drugs are mainly used in clients who have major depressive disorder and certain anxiety disorders that have not responded to other treatments.

Antidepressant Side Effects

While antidepressants can help with managing mental health conditions, anyone taking them will want to be aware of potential side effects. Keep in mind that individual responses can vary. Not everyone will experience the same effects. Common side effects of antidepressants may include:

  • Nausea
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight changes
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Agitation or restlessness

Anyone with any concerns or unexpected side effects will need to consult with a healthcare provider. These professionals can assist with managing any side effects. In some cases, they will explore alternative medications.

For many people, it can take some time for the body to adjust to the medication. Once the body adapts to these drugs, those side effects may diminish throughout treatment.

Common Prescription Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications are a class of pharmaceuticals designed to relieve symptoms associated with anxiety disorders. These medications work with neurotransmitters in the brain, especially those with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). As a result, these medications can calm neural activity. When a client uses these drugs over a period of time, they will experience a sense of relaxation and tranquility.

Benzodiazepines boost the effects of GABA, which can produce a sedative and calming effect on the central nervous system. These medications are fast acting, leading to a rapid relief of anxiety symptoms. Unfortunately, there is a risk of developing long-term dependence on the drugs. Some of the best anxiety medications include:

  • Alprazolam (Xanax): Used for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder
  • Lorazepam (Ativan): Prescribed for anxiety disorders and acute anxiety episodes
  • Diazepam (Valium): Utilized for anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, and certain types of seizures

Along with benzodiazepines, there are also non-narcotic medications. They can change serotonin and norepinephrine levels, affecting a person’s mood and anxiety. These medications have less chance of dependence and addiction. However, they can take longer to take effect in the body.

These medications include:

  • Escitalopram (Lexapro): Used for generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder
  • Sertraline (Zoloft): Prescribed for panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Venlafaxine (Effexor): Effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder
  • Buspirone (Buspar): A non-benzodiazepine anxiolytic used for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder

Side Effects of Anti-Anxiety Medications

Anti-anxiety medications are effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. However, they can cause side effects. The intensity and nature of these side effects can vary from person to person. Here are some common side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Stomach upset or diarrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Weight changes
  • Increased agitation or restlessness

Stimulant Medications for ADHD and Their Uses

Stimulant medications are essential in treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). These medications affect dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain. As a result, they help improve focus, attention, and impulse control in people with ADHD.

There are two types of stimulant medications: narcotic and non-narcotic stimulants.

Narcotic stimulants work by increasing the release of dopamine and norepinephrine while also blocking their reuptake. Generally, they are fast-acting medications. They include:

  • Amphetamine – dextroamphetamine (Adderall)
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin or Concerta)

Non-narcotic stimulants block the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine. They take longer to work in the body. While Ritalin can be used as a narcotic, other methylphenidate medications are used as non-narcotic options. Along with that, dexmethylphenidate (Focalin) is another option in this category.

The choice between narcotic and non-narcotic stimulants depends on individual factors, including the severity of symptoms, response to medications, and the presence of any comorbid conditions. Healthcare providers carefully assess these factors to tailor treatment plans for the optimal management of ADHD.

ADHD Medication Side Effects

These ADHD medications can be very effective in treating the disorder. However, there are some side effects. These responses do not happen in every individual. Some side effects associated with these drugs may include:

  • Insomnia or other sleep disturbances
  • Decreased appetite
  • Gastrointestinal disturbances
  • Headaches
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Mood changes
  • Tourette syndromes
  • Growth suppression in children

Regular follow-ups with a healthcare professional can monitor the effectiveness and address any side effects that may arise during ADHD treatment.

Common Antipsychotic Medications and Uses

Psychosis is a mental health condition characterized by distorted thinking, impaired perception, and a disconnect from reality. Antipsychotic medications can manage these symptoms. They help by modulating dopamine in the brain. These common antipsychotic medications include:

  • Risperidone (Risperdal): Prescribed to manage symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa): Treats schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel): Manages schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify): Used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon): Prescribed for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder
  • Clozapine (Clozaril): Reserved for individuals who do not respond to other antipsychotic medications
  • Paliperidone (Invega): Used in the treatment of schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder

Side Effects of Antipsychotics

While antipsychotic medications can help with mental health conditions, they can be associated with specific side effects. Common side effects may include:

  • Weight gain
  • Elevated blood sugar levels and changes in cholesterol levels
  • Tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, and tardive dyskinesia
  • Sedation or drowsiness
  • Sudden drop in blood pressure
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Urinary retention
  • Changes in libido

Mood Stabilizers: Explanation and Uses

Mood stabilizers are medications designed to balance and stabilize moods, preventing extreme highs (mania) and lows (depression) associated with mood disorders. They treat bipolar disorder and related mood disturbances.

The exact mechanism of mood stabilizers depends on the medication. For the most part, they impact the serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. These mood stabilizers help regulate mood and prevent extreme mood swings.

They can help to treat:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Recurrent major depressive disorders

Some of the commonly prescribed mood stabilizers include:

  • Lithium: Treats acute manic and depressive episodes in bipolar disorder
  • Valproic acid (Divalproex Sodium): Used in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder
  • Lamotrigine (Lamictal): Effective in the prevention of depressive episodes in bipolar disorder
  • Carbamazepine: Utilized to treat acute manic and mixed episodes in bipolar disorder

Mood Stabilizer Side Effects

Some side effects can occur with these drugs. However, not everyone will experience the same symptoms. These side effects can involve:

  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Feeling sleepy or tired
  • Fine tremors or shaking of the hands
  • Increased urination or thirst
  • Skin rash
  • Hair loss
  • Cognitive dulling, memory impairment, or difficulties with concentration
  • Elevated cholesterol or triglyceride levels

Using Psychotherapy With Mental Health Medications: Comprehensive Treatment

Better mental health can often be achieved through an approach that combines psychotherapy and medications. This treatment strategy recognizes the importance of addressing both the psychological and biological aspects of mental health conditions. Some of the types of psychotherapy that are commonly used along with pharmacological interventions include the following treatments.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on identifying and challenging negative thought patterns and behaviors. CBT is a goal-oriented treatment. It helps clients learn new coping skills to solve current problems. This therapy is effective for anxiety disorders, depression, and certain mood disorders.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) focuses on balancing acceptance and change. DBT is helpful for emotion regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. This therapy is commonly used for borderline personality disorder and other mood disorders.

Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR)

This type of psychotherapy resolves traumatic memories through guided eye movements. With this therapy, clients can desensitize from their traumatic experiences and overcome the negative emotions associated with these memories. This therapy is primarily utilized for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and trauma-related conditions.

Group Therapy

This therapy provides a supportive environment for individuals to share experiences and learn from one another. Group therapy can involve family, friends, or strangers, and a trained therapist leads it. This therapy is effective for several types of mental health issues, such as addiction, anxiety, and mood disorders. During these sessions, clients learn from others who have similar struggles. They can receive peer support to help manage their mental health issues.

Get Started on Your Mental Health Journey at Granite Recovery Centers Today

At Granite Recovery Centers, we understand the importance of taking charge of your mental health. Our team is dedicated to providing you with top-notch treatment that is secure and comfortable.

We believe in starting with a personalized evaluation. That allows our experienced professionals to tailor a treatment plan specifically for you. With our medication management team, we will make sure you receive the right pharmacological support for your needs. Along with mental health medications, we combine treatment with cognitive-behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and group therapy.

At our residential facilities, your comfort and well-being are our top priority. We provide a safe environment for your healing journey. Take the first step toward a brighter, healthier future with Granite Recovery Centers. Call 855.712.7784 today to initiate a confidential conversation about your mental health needs.