History of drug treatment – Intro to Psychology

History of drug treatment – Intro to Psychology


Prior to the development of drugs for mental illness, people with mental disorders, as we mentioned in the last lesson, were often treated poorly. There were not effective behavioral therapies, or psychotherapy developed, to help individuals manage their symptoms. And therefore, many people resided in mental institutions or state hospitals. In fact, by 1955 there were over half of a million of a people of the United States who were living in mental institutions. Then came the discovery of the phenothiazines. These were initially developed as antihistamines, and they were first studied for their mildly sedating action. Chlorpromazine, that goes by the trade name Thorazine was the second phenotiazine discovered and it was found produced calmness, conscious sedation, disinterest in and detachment from external stimuli. This condition was termed a Neuroleptic state and chlorpromazine was the first antipsychotic or neuroleptic drug. And these are used to manage psychosis. Neuroleptic drugs are strong tranquilizers that are perscribed for Schizophrenia. These drugs are effective for treating the symptoms of Schizophrenia because they decrease delusions and hallucinations. In fact, these were so effective, that by 1993, fewer than 220,000 people were still residing in mental institutions. The dramatic decrease in those living in institutions was due to the development of drug therapy. These individuals were now able to manage their symptoms and they could leave the hospital and live with family members or in group homes.

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