Psychopharmacology - the study of drug-induced changes in mood, thinking, and behaviour – was debated at a public lecture on the Howard College campus.
International medical experts Professor Morgan Sammons and Professor Steven Tulkin discussed integrating psychopharmacology in primary care and the benefits of training psychologists.
The presentation, part of the School of Nursing and Public Health’s public lecture series, attracted staff and students from various disciples who learnt about psychopharmacology and the evolution of primary care in psychology.
Sammons said he believed psychologists were the future of psychopharmacology. ‘Most patients around the world who seek mental care only receive medication and that is a problem. They see a general practitioner and get once-off treatment. Pills alone are not enough!’
Sammons drew attention to cases where patients had been prescribed expensive drugs for mental illness, only to find at a later stage that they were wrongly diagnosed.
‘Some prescriptions have severe side effects often leading to weight gain and cognitive problems.
Anxiety, major depression, schizophrenia, trauma, and the disorders of bipolar, eating and personality are some of the most prevalent mental conditions causing suffering world-wide.’
Sammons highlighted a dramatic increase in the number of patients seeking care for mental health problems which doubled from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. He stressed the importance of delivering psychological services in the primary healthcare setting.
‘The need is overwhelming… patients continue to be underserved and suffer. It is important to introduce the patient to a behavioural regiment as well.’
Sammons spoke about the difference between drug-centred, disease-centred, medical and psychological models of treatment, lobbying for the use of a psychopharmacological model which ‘focuses on the entire spectrum of treatment’.
‘If you combine psychology with medicine, even in severe situations, people get better.’
Sammons said psychologists could be trained efficiently to provide services in primary care, but ‘psychopharmacology training will be essential to this endeavour’.
Sammons said it was important to be educated about pharmacology and medicine, especially in a country so burdened by disease.
‘As our population ages, there are more and more chronic diseases. This results in depression and anxiety which go hand in hand,’ said Tulkin.
‘The shortage of psychiatrists - physicians who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders - will certainly be familiar to you.
‘There is a need to “talk” to the patient.’