What Does a Psychopharmacologist Do?

Psychopharmacology treatment involves the use of prescribed medications to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other psychiatric conditions. Several different types of medication are effective in the treatment of these conditions. Below we describe some of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medications and how they work. Dr. Brown is fully trained and highly experienced in psychopharmacology.

Antidepressants such as sertraline (Zoloft®), paroxetine (Paxil®), citalopram (Celexa®), escitalopram (Lexapro®), venlafaxine (Effexor®), and duloxetine (Cymbalta®) are used to treat the symptoms of depression; most of these medications can also help with anxiety. Antidepressant medication needs to be taken every day and may take 3-4 weeks and sometimes longer before it has its full effect.

All of these medications likely work by bringing levels of brain chemicals, such as neurotransmitters that are affected by the illness, back to normal. Antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications need to be prescribed by a psychiatrist or other clinician with medical experience and need to be closely monitored. In particular, psychiatrists are extensively and medically trained in the use of these medications as well as in providing psychotherapy. There are other medical or mental health professionals who can legally prescribe these medications but who did not have training in medical school and/or did not complete a medical and psychiatric residency training program. Although these medications may cause side effects, most improve with time or by switching to a different medication.

For more information on mental health conditions and their treatment, please see our Useful Links.