A psychiatric medication is a licensed psychoactive drug taken to exert an effect on the mental state and used to treat mental disorders. Usually prescribed in psychiatric settings, these medications are typically made of synthetic chemical compounds, although some are naturally occurring.
Prescription psychiatric medications, like all prescription medications, require a prescription from a physician, such as a psychiatrist.


  • Psychiatric drugs are available in different forms, which include, regular tablets or capsules, orodispersible tablets, short and long acting injections and liquids.
  • They can be administered orally and by intramulscular injection.
  • Choice of a drug should be made jointly by the prescriber and the patient and/or carer whenever possible.
  • Drug treatment should be considered only part of a comprehensive package of care.
  • There are certain drugs which could be used during pregnancy and breast feeding. Patients whoare at high risk of relapse are best maintained on medication during and after pregnancy.
  • It is best to avoid alcohol while on psychotropic medication. This combination can lead to dangerous interactions and also rendering the drugs less effective.
  • For some drugs used in psychiatry, smoking significantly reduces drug plasma levels and higher doses are required than in non-smokers.
  • Medication should always be taken under medical supervision. Self medicating is a dangerousm practice. In general, psychotropic drugs should not be discontinued abruptly.
  • If taken under proper medical supervision, modern psychiatric drugs are extremely effective and have a favourable side-effect profile

There are 7 major classes of psychiatric medications

  • Antidepressants, which are used to treat disparate disorders such as clinical depression, dysthymia, anxiety, eating disorders and borderline personality disorder.
  • Stimulants, which are used to treat disorders such as attention deficit disorder and narcolepsy and to suppress the appetite.
  • Antipsychotics, which are used to treat psychoses, schizophrenia and mania.
  • Mood stabilisers, which are used to treat bipolar disorder and schizoaffective disorder.
  • Anxiolytics, which are used to treat anxiety disorder.
  • Depressants, which are used as hypnotics, sedatives, and aesthetics.
  • Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, which are used in the treatment of dementia