Mental Health America of Franklin County
2323 W. Fifth Ave. Suite 160, Columbus, OH 43204 Telephone: (614) 221-1441 Fax: (614) 221-1491
Medications/Treatments: General

A Guide For Families, Friends, Board And Care Homes, Caregivers And Patients

Prescription medications are helpful in reducing symptoms in people suffering with a mental illness. As
with any medication, there are precautions to be taken, and careful monitoring is needed to reduce any risk
and maximize the benefits of medications. It is important for you and others to be familiar with how these
medications are used.

How Do Medications For Mental Health Work?

Some mental illnesses are due to chemical imbalances in the brain. These chemicals are neurotransmitters.
They are the messengers within the brain, which enable communication between different areas of the brain
and the body. When there are disturbances in the functioning of these neurotransmitters, the communication
system in the brain can be disrupted. Medications can correct the imbalance of these chemicals in the brain
and restore healthy neurotransmitter communication. Medications can reduce the symptoms of an acute
attack and prevent recurring illness.

Tell Your Doctor If You:
 Have had allergic reactions to drugs or food
 Are taking any other medications
 Are pregnant or breast-feeding
 Have diabetes, kidney, liver or heart disease
 Are on a special diet or taking any supplements
 Smoke or drink alcohol
 Stop taking the prescribed medications
 Feel side effects
There are 5 major categories of mental health medications: (1) anti-depressant, (2) anti-psychotic, (3) anti-
anxiety, (4) Lithium and (5) stimulant medications. Ask your doctor what category of medications you are


 Take all medications only as prescribed by your doctor.
 Check your prescription with your pharmacist.
 Know your medication.
 Follow directions and read the label carefully.
 Store medications properly.
 Never stop medications on your own.
 Ask about special precautions.
 Find out about possible side effects.
 Keep your doctor informed about any side effects you may have.
If you have any questions or problems call your doctor, therapist and/or pharmacist.
Please Note: Only your doctor should prescribe these medications.

The 5 Major Categories Of Mental

Health Medications
Generic Names
Generic Names

Brand Names
Brand Names
What Do They Do?
What Are Anti-psychotics Used For?
Anti-psychotics treat schizophrenia by supplying Anti-psychotic medications are used to treat some of the chemicals that make you feel Schizophrenia. This disease causes distorted organized and concentrated. Anti-psychotic meds thinking, confusion of reality and fantasy, and help reduce excitability, confusion, and hallucinations. Anti-psychotics can reduce or withdrawal. They improve your ability to communicate, to separate reality from fantasy Side Effects: Sleepiness, dry mouth, dizziness,
blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, stuffy nose and constipation may occur. Also, muscle spasms, restlessness, muscle stiffness, trembling, and shaking hands may occur. These effects often disappear in 1 to 2 weeks. Tardive dyskinesia, which is an involuntary movement of the face or mouth, may occur while taking anti-psychotics. It Precautions: The same precautions apply as
with anti-anxiety medications, however, anti- (3) ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICATIONS
*Buspirone lacks sedative and muscle relaxant Nitrazepam
What Are They Used For?
These medications may be used to treat anxiety Brand name
(an unreasonable state of tension and uneasiness, not ordinary tension), insomnia (difficulty sleeping), tension, and sometimes muscle What Is It Used For?
Lithium may be used to treat mania (overly self- What Do They Do?
confident, reckless, uncontrollable, sleepless, and Anti-anxiety medications treat anxiety by excited), or manic depression (alternating supplying some of the missing chemicals that make you feel relaxed and calm. They can provide mild sedation and relief from tension and What Does It Do?
Lithium adjusts some of the chemicals that make you feel happy and confident, stabilizes your Side Effects: Sleepiness, slurred speech,
mood, and controls highs and lows. It helps difficulties (rarely), nervousness, or excitement recurring. Lithium may take 4-14 days to take Precautions:
Side Effects: During the first 5 days of treatment
 Avoid barbiturates and alcohol if taking it may cause nausea, cramps, thirst, and muscle these meds. The combination can be DEADLY. weakness. 5 to 6 weeks after treatment has begun  Do not operate a car or machinery until you muscle weakness, fatigue, weight gain and are sure that the medication does not adversely slightly impaired memory may occur. Other more serious effects include diarrhea, vomiting, severe  If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, consult  If taken for a long period of time, these Precautions:
 Be aware of your salt intake. A low salt concentration in your body can cause fatigue, (4) LITHIUM
Generic name
 Blood tests are necessary to make sure What Do They Do?
Stimulant medications can improve attention  If you are pregnant or breast feeding, consult span, decrease distractibility, increase ability to finish tasks, improve ability to follow directions,  Stopping this medication may result in decrease hyperactivity and improve ability to Side Effects: These often stop after two weeks
or if dose is lowered by the doctor; trouble 5) STIMULANT MEDICATION
falling asleep, headaches, stomachaches, Generic Name
crankiness, rapid pulse, or increased blood pressure. Serious side effects include muscle twitches or tics, sadness which lasts more than a few days and unusual behavior. These should be Precautions: Addiction is not seen in young
Brand Name
children using this medication as recommended for hyperactivity, but may occur in adolescents or adults using it without proper supervision. For this reason, keep this medication where it will not (Note: A child may not grow as fast as usual What Are They Used For?
while taking this medication. Growth usually This medication is used to treat attention deficit catches up once medication is stopped. Height and weight should be monitored regularly.) Mental Health America of Franklin County is a private, not-for-profit organization, established
in 1956. We help people navigate the mental health system. We are dedicated to promoting mental health in
Franklin County through advocacy, education, and support services. Our programs include: information and
referral to community mental health and alcohol/drug services; free support groups for people with mental
illness and their families; an Ombudsman program that assists clients in navigating the mental health and
alcohol/drug system; mental health screenings in English and Spanish; Pro Bono Counseling Program where
underinsured and uninsured individuals can receive free counseling; community and professional mental health
education including Get Connected; maternal mental health support and advocacy (POEM); and a quarterly
newsletter featuring legislative updates and new happenings at MHAFC. We receive funding from the Franklin
County ADAMH Board, United Way of Central Ohio, individuals, foundations, and corporations. To become a
member or find out more information, please visit us online


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