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What Psychiatric Conditions Are Often Treated With Medication?

In 2023, a large-scale study found that 50 percent of the people on the planet will struggle with a mental health illness in their lives. That number is staggering and enough to leave you wondering what you would do if diagnosed with a mental disorder. More specifically, you might contemplate the possibility of being prescribed medication.

The average person seems to be more comfortable with taking a pill for a physical ailment than for an emotional or behavioral problem. Before anyone gets caught up in fear or stigma, it can help to understand better when medication is suggested and why.

The Stigma Still Exists

Before we get to the list, it’s vital to acknowledge that too many people feel shame about taking a psychotropic drug. This shame can be strong enough to prevent them from seeking help. Considering the long-term stigma around mental health, this trend is not surprising. Therefore, it makes a whole lot of sense to connect with a therapist and talk about all of your concerns. By doing so, you may find out:

  • Talk therapy is typically the frontline approach, e.g., only about 15 percent of Americans take psychiatric medication, while twice as many go to therapy.
  • Medications become less daunting when you do extensive self-education.
  • When it comes to deciding what’s “best” for you, it starts with you being willing to follow through and stick with it.

Again, the first step involves finding a mental health practitioner with whom you trust and rapport.

What Psychiatric Conditions Are Often Treated With Medication?


This means conditions like generalized anxiety, social anxiety, phobias, and panic disorder. The most common medication prescribed is benzodiazepines. They are quick-acting and are recommended for acute, short-term anxiety. Benzodiazepines include Ativan, Xanax, Klonopin, and Valium.

Since benzodiazepines have side effects and are addictive, anxiety is sometimes initially treated with antidepressants.


Logically, depression is mostly treated with antidepressants. There are several types, but the most common are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). They both work to balance neurotransmitter levels in your brain, but it can take a few weeks before you feel the effects. Frequently used SSRIs are Prozac and Zoloft)  The SNRIs most often prescribed are Cymbalta and Effexor.

person walking in an empty field towards a setting sun above mountainsAttention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

This is where stimulants enter the picture. For example, amphetamines and methylphenidate increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels and thus reduce ADHD symptoms. Stimulants can be addictive and if not used properly, have dangerous side effects.

Bipolar Disorder

For a mood disorder like bipolar, the medication of choice is mood stabilizers. In theory, this treatment is designed to calm the brain — particularly the parts that can lead to bipolar’s more extreme mood swings. Lithium, Depakote, and Lamictal are a few different mood stabilizers.

Antipsychotic Medications

For the final entry, we’ll list the medication type rather than a specific disorder. Antipsychotics can be prescribed for three of the conditions listed above (anxiety, depression, and bipolar). In addition, they can be effective for schizophrenia and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Commonly prescribed antipsychotics include Risperdal, Seroquel, and Abilify.

Antipsychotics impact how your brain sends and receives messages but this treatment choice carries with it the highest likelihood of stigma. The suggestion of psychosis can sound too much like “crazy” for some folks. Here are a few things to remember:

  • Taking antipsychotics doesn’t mean you have psychosis
  • Having psychosis doesn’t mean you’re “crazy”
  • Your therapist is the one who can help you reconcile these societal stigmas in the name of getting the help you need and deserve

Psychiatric medications can be confusing and stressful to ponder, but I’m here to help you navigate the process. Let’s talk soon to learn more about medication management.

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