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Psychotherapy: Biological Treatments

Psychotherapy: Biological Treatments

Author: Erick Taggart
Description:

This lesson will identify and explain the three major types of medications used in pharmacotherapy, as well as other biological treatments. 

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Hello, class. So when we're considering the different types of therapy for people with mental problems, it's important to also consider the biological therapies that might coincide with psychotherapies.

Now, there are limitations on both of these types of therapy, psychotherapy and biological therapies. For example, biological therapies can only effect people physically. They can't actually change people's accompanying mental states, just like how therapy can only really affect people's thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. So the important takeaway point when we're talking today is that both of these should be used in conjunction for the most effective type of therapy for a person with a problem. We should be using psychotherapy along with biological therapies for people with severe problems.

The first treatment we want to look at is pharmacotherapy, which is to say, the Use of drugs to treat psychological problems. Now, this is something that's been in the news and media quite a bit recently. And that's because it's become much more popular, particularly in America, as a treatment for different types of problems. So it's important to understand how it works.

Now, drugs that are used to treat in psychotherapy any kind of psychological problems are what we call psychotropic drugs, which is to say they're drugs that affect the brain. This means that these drugs are very powerful. And they can have massive effects on people.

At the same time, though, it's important to note that they can have unintended and far-reaching effects, which are much broader and more extensive than the problems they're being used to treat. For example, some anti-anxiety drugs can cause facial tics. Anti-psychotics, they can cause different kinds of mood shifts, weight gain, and they can even result in death in some cases. So the use of drugs should be weighed in terms of the risks that are involved with the kind of drugs and the specific benefits that they might have for persons. So it depends on the case and the severity of the issue that's being treated to determine whether drugs should be used and what kinds of drugs.

So there are three basic types of psychotropic drugs that we want to take a look at here. And we've outlined them on the board. I'll also give you some examples to go along with this.

When we talk about drugs, it's important to know that there are two different kinds of names that are used. There's the brand name, which is generally the more popular name that's used and it's the most recognizable for people, as well as the generic name, which is the scientific name that can be used by anyone, not just the company. It's often used by the FDA to recognize what drug they're talking about. So we'll list both of these names for the drugs. But I'll refer to them in this video by their popular or brand name.

So the first type is anxiolytic drugs, which is to say drugs that reduce anxiety or help to relax people. Sometimes they're referred to as minor tranquilizers. Examples of these include Valium and Xanax. The second type of drug is the antidepressant drug, which is to say drugs that counteract depression and help to elevate people's moods. Examples of these include Prozac and Zoloft.

And the third type of drug are anti-psychotic drugs, which is to say these are major tranquilizers as opposed to the minor tranquilizers. These are major tranquilizers and they're meant to help calm and reduce agitation in people. They're also meant to help reduce hallucinations and delusions that people have. So they're very powerful types of drugs. And examples of these include Zyprexa and Clozapine, or cloz-a-peen.

The other two treatments that we'll take a look at are more physical treatments of psychological problems. Psychology has a bit of a history of controversial treatments. So these physical actions that we're talking about are often used today. But it's interesting to go back sometimes and take a look at some of the histories of these kinds of things.

So the first one we'll talk about is electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. This was a therapy that was made popular in the '40s. And it's when they pass an electrical current through the brain for a brief period. It often made a person lose consciousness.

You might have seen this being used in older movies and things like that. And it's something that you might think is a bit archaic. But in fact it's still used today. The idea is that the brain operates on electrical impulses. So a shock of electricity through the brain acts as a bit of a reboot, if you imagine it kind of like a computer, and helps to reset any kind of specific problems the person is having.

The other form of more physical treatment under psychotherapy is psychosurgery. Now as you can expect from the name, this is when you actually surgically go in and alter the brain in some kind of way. The earliest instance of psychotherapy that we can ascertain in ancient times, they use something called trepanning, which is when they drilled holes in the skull. And the idea was to release any kind of evil spirits that were causing psychological problems. Now, as you can imagine that's not really widely used today at all.

Another instance of psychotherapy in history is the frontal lobotomy. In the 1940s, this became popular. And the idea was to go in and disconnect or remove parts of the frontal lobe to effect some kind of personality change or to try to stop some kinds of behaviors in severe patients. Generally the way they would do that was not actually to open the brain or the skull, but rather to go in through some other kinds of means, either through the eye or the nose. Yeah. Not a very pleasant sort of surgery.

They found wit patients of lobotomies that some people did actually change for the better. But the vast majority of people either didn't change as a result of the surgery or effected some kind of major negative psychological change. Some people became vegetables. They were completely comatose and didn't respond anymore. Or they developed surgeries or personality changes that were very severe. So this is again a type of psychosurgery that isn't widely used at all today.

One surgery that is used is the corpus callosotomy or cal-es-to-me, which is to cut the corpus callosum, which is the part of the brain that joins your two hemispheres. Now the idea is that when you do this, people are less likely to send impulses from one side or the other. So if say, in the case of severe epileptic seizures, that person is less likely to go into an epileptic seizure which might affect them in some kinds of negative physical ways.

So this is a sort of extreme surgery that's used. And it's important to remember that, because surgery is of course irreversible. So it's important to use it as a bit of a last resort when all other kinds of therapies have been used and have proved ineffective.

Notes for "Psychotherapy: Biological Treatments"

Terms to Know


Pharmacotherapy
The use of drugs to treat psychological problems.


Antipsychotics
Drugs that help relieve some of the positive symptoms (agitation, hallucinations and delusions) of psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.


Antidepressants
Drugs that help elevate mood and other symptoms of depression.


Anxiolytics
Anti-anxiety medication that reduces tension and fear.


Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
The use of electrical currents to stimulate the brain.


Psychosurgery
Any surgery used to change the brain and thereby behavioral or emotional responses.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Psychosurgery

    Any surgery used to change the brain and thereby behavioral or emotional responses.

  • Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

    The use of electrical currents to stimulate the brain.

  • Anxiolytics

    Anti-anxiety medication that reduces tension and fear.

  • Antidepressants

    Drugs that help elevate mood and other symptoms of depression.

  • Antipsychotics

    Drugs that help relieve some of the positive symptoms (agitation, hallucinations and delusions) of psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia.

  • Pharmacotherapy

    The use of drugs to treat psychological problems.