Treatment of mental disorders

Treatment of mental disorders

The treatment of mental disorders includes various forms of psychotherapy, psychiatric medication, and other practices.Gazzaniga, M.S., & Heatherton, T.F. (2006). "Psychological Science". New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.] National Institute of Mental Health. (2006, January 31). "Information about Mental Illness and the Brain". Retrieved April 19, 2007, from]


A major option for many mental disorders is psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is an interpersonal intervention, usually provided by a mental health professional, that employs any of a range of specific psychological techniques. There are several main types. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is used for a wide variety of disorders, based on modifying the patterns of thought and behavior associated with a particular disorder. There are various kinds of CBT therapy, and offshoots such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy. Psychoanalysis, addressing underlying psychic conflicts and defenses, has been a dominant school of psychotherapy and is still in use. Systemic Therapy or Family therapy is sometimes used, addressing a network of relationships as well as an individual themselves. Some psychotherapies are based on a humanistic approach. Some therapies are for a specific disorder only, for example interpersonal and social rhythm therapy.

Mental health professionals often pick and choose techniques, employing an eclectic or integrative approach tailored to a particular disorder and individual. Much may depend on the therapeutic relationship, and there may be issues of trust, confidentiality and engagement.


Psychiatric medication is also widely used to treat mental disorders. These are licenced psychoactive drugs usually prescribed by a psychiatrist or family doctor. There are several main groups. Antidepressants are used for the treatment of clinical depression as well as often for anxiety and other disorders. Anxiolytics are used, generally shorter-term, for anxiety disorders and related problems such as insomnia. Mood stabilizers are used primarily in bipolar disorder, mainly targeting mania rather than depression. Antipsychotics are used for psychotic disorders, notably in schizophrenia. Stimulants are commonly used, notably for ADHD.

Despite the different conventional names of the drug groups, there can be considerable overlap in the kinds of disorders for which they are actually indicated. There may also be off-label use. There can be problems with adverse effects and adherence.


Electroconvulsive therapy ECT is sometimes used, for example in prolonged mood disorder unresponsive to other interventions. Psychosurgery, including Deep brain stimulation, is another available treatment for some disorders.Fact|date=October 2007

Creative therapies are sometimes used, including music therapy [cite journal| quotes = Music therapy may provide a means of improving mental health among people with schizophrenia, but its effects in acute psychoses have not been explored |last=Crawford |first=Mike J. |authorlink= |coauthors=Talwar, Nakul, "et al." |year=2006 |month=November |title=Music therapy for in-patients with schizophrenia: Exploratory randomised controlled trial |journal=The British Journal of Psychiatry (2006) |volume=189 |pages=405–409 |url= |doi=10.1192/bjp.bp.105.015073] , art therapy or drama therapy.

Lifestyle adjustments and supportive measures are often used, including peer support, self-help and supported housing or employment. Some advocate dietary supplements. Many things have been found to help at least some people. A placebo effect may play a role.


Often an individual may engage in different treatment modalities and use various mental health services. These may be under case management (sometimes referred to as "service coordination"), use inpatient or day treatment, utilize a psychosocial rehabilitation program, and/or take part in an Assertive Community Treatment program.

Mental health services may be based in hospitals, clinics or the community.

Some approaches are based on a recovery model of mental disorder, and may focus on challenging stigma and social exclusion and creating empowerment and hope [Repper, J. & Perkins, R. (2006) "Social Inclusion and Recovery: A Model for Mental Health Practice." Bailliere Tindall, UK. ISBN 0702026018]

In America, half of people with severe symptoms of a mental health condition were found to have received no treatment in the prior 12 months. [America's Mental Health Survey, National Mental Health Association, 2001.]

Fear of disclosure, rejection by friends, and ultimately discrimination are a few reasons why people with mental health conditions often don't seek help.Fact|date=April 2007

List of treatments

*Somatotherapy (type of pharmacotherapy; biology-based treatment)
**Psychiatric medications (psychoactive drugs used in psychiatry)
***Antianxiety drugs (anxiolytics)
***Antidepressant drugs
***Antipsychotic drugs
***Mood stabilizers
**Shock therapy also known as convulsive therapies
***Insulin shock therapy (no longer practiced)
***Electroconvulsive therapy
***Leukotomy (prefrontal lobotomy; no longer practiced)
***Bilateral cingulotomy
***Deep brain stimulation
*Psychotherapy (psychology-based treatment)
**Cognitive Behavior Therapy
**Gestalt Therapy
**Interpersonal psychotherapy
**Behavior Therapy


See also

* Mental disorder

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