A first-episode of schizophrenia, previously discussed, (http://graymattersmentalhealth.areavoices.com/mental-illness-is-a-brain-disorder/) is often treated with medicines referred to as psychotropics or neuroleptics. Psychotropics are not new and extend back over 50 years. What’s relatively new are the different types of psychotropics, with strange sounding names, like Clozaril, Zyprexa, Abilify and now Latuda. Follow link to list of some medicines: http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_Medications
Scientists don’t know the exact cause or causes of schizophrenia, but they can agree that not one psychotropic can cure brain disorders. However, they do believe that the medicine can help address some of the symptoms like hallucinations and disrupted thought patterns in schizophrenia.
A closer look at a neuroleptic medicine reveals that it attempts to bind with certain receptors in the brain. These receptors are located on nerve cells, and these nerve cells send and receive messages. When neuroleptic medicines attach to some of these nerve receptors like dopamine receptors it affects the nerve cell’s messenging. In addition, the medicine may attach to dopamine receptors in certain parts of the brain thereby reducing certain types of side effects. There are of course several key receptors like serotonin and glutamate that you can learn more about at www.nimh.gov.
But, at this point, we are left with more questions than answers? Is mental illness and in this case schizophrenia really the result of a chemical imbalance? Scientists really don’t know yet. Is the medicine really suppose to correct a chemical imbalance? Medicine, it is agreed, can help reduce some of the more disabling symptoms, but it is not, unfortunately, a magic bullet.