Mental Health Medications by National Institute of Mental HealthMedications are used to treat the
symptoms of mental disorders such
as schizophrenia, depression, bipolar
disorder (sometimes called manic-depressive
illness), anxiety disorders, and attention deficithyperactivity
disorder (ADHD) Sometimes
medications are used with other treatments such as
psychotherapy This guide describes:
Types of medications used to treat mental
Side effects of medications
Directions for taking medications
Warnings about medications from the U S
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
This booklet does not provide information about
diagnosing mental disorders Choosing the right
medication, medication dose, and treatment plan
should be based on a person’s individual needs and
medical situation, and under a doctor’s care
Drug Talk (National Institute of Mental Health, 1972)
Coping with Mental Health: Medications
Children are overprescribed medications for psychiatric conditions, psychologists and psychiatrics say. In the United States, prescriptions for childhood antipsychotic drugs prescribed to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia increased sixfold between and , according to a study published the Archives of General Psychiatry in June Paul Ballas, a child psychiatrist in Philadelphia. Others are concerned about the use of stimulant medications, prescribed for conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ADHD. Prescriptions for amphetamines for children increased fold between and , according to statistics from the United Kingdom's National Health Service, said Dave Traxson, an educational psychologist in the U.
Four writers on the ways they manage mental illness.
Treating mental health conditions with medication is common. Approximately one in six U. Antidepressants are the most frequently filled prescriptions for mental health, followed by anti-anxiety drugs, sedatives, and hypnotics, then antipsychotics. Only a few professionals can prescribe psychiatric medication: psychiatrists medical doctors with specific training in mental health , and psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners. Additionally, general practitioners, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners may prescribe, though they tend to refer more complex mental health conditions to specialists. In a similar way to treating physical health conditions, finding an effective medication for the management of mental health conditions can require some trial and error. There is no laboratory or physical test for a mental health diagnosis.
Medications can play a role in treating several mental disorders and conditions. In some cases, psychotherapy alone may be the best treatment option. Resources that may help you find treatment services in your area are listed on our Help for Mental Illnesses web page. NIMH also does not endorse or recommend any particular drug, herb, or supplement. This health topic webpage is intended to provide basic information about mental health medications. It is not a complete source for all medications available and should not be used as a guide for making medical decisions.