Mental health medicines – also known as psychiatric medicine – play a key role in the treatment of mental health conditions like Depression and Anxiety.

Medicine is normally offered to those with moderate or severe cases of mental health conditions. They are often intended to complement Talking Therapy – with these two areas being a good combination.

Medication has helped many people to see an improvement in their mental health. Medicine certainly has the potential to be effective, but there are also many things to be aware of.

Our site is full of information on medication. This article provides an overview of the topic, along with information on some of the key areas within medication.

Mental health medicine is very common

What are the different types of mental health medicines?

There are a range of different mental health medicines, which can be placed into a few different groups. The main four types of medicine groups are:

The type of medicine that is prescribed to a patient will depend on the severity of their symptoms and the condition.

How do mental health medicines work?

It isn’t entirely known how mental health medicines work. However, years of research have gone into these medicines to ensure their safety. Moreover, all psychiatric medicines go through a rigorous process made up of several stages in order to get a license, which results in them being capable of being prescribed.

These medicines are known to target certain chemicals in the brain that are believed to be linked to mood, perception of reality and motivation.

The exact chemicals that are targeted depend on which class of medicine is being prescribed. The various chemicals that are targeted include dopamine, serotonin, noradrenaline, and gamma-aminobutyric acid.

We have an article that looks in more detail at how Mental Health Medicines work – which is available at this link.

Which medicine will I be prescribed?

A doctor or mental health professional will use their judgment and professional expertise when deciding which medicine to prescribe.

Some of the factors they will consider include:

  • Symptoms
  • Side effects
  • Past medical history, including how the patient reacted to similar medications
  • Their knowledge of the medicine
  • Cost effectiveness for GP clinic

What should you know before taking mental health medication?

It is important to be aware of a few things before taking any form of psychiatric medicine. We have an article that explores this in more detail if needed.

Knowing which medicine it is, which class it belongs to and the dosage are all important things to know. Having knowledge of potential side effects is also important. It is understandable for a patient to want to do some research on the medicine first.

Other things that are important to know includes how long the patient will most likely be taking the medicine for, and how long it takes for the medicine to take effect.

Normally, the patient can ask the prescribing doctor these questions. They should provide the patient with all of the answers they desire.

How long does a person take mental health medication for?

It can be very difficult to state decisively how long each patient will take medication for. Furthermore, the type of medicine is also taken into account.

When a medicine is first prescribed, it is usually intended for a treatment course that will last a few months. For example, a typical course of antidepressants is around six months. Some may take it a little longer, but most won’t use medicine for more than a couple of years.

But it is important to mention that some people will require medication for life. This is mainly relevant to those with more severe conditions like Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia. Every person is different.

Can you get addicted to mental health medicines?

Medicines like antidepressants and antipsychotics are not addictive. Patients will not become dependent on them, nor will they have cravings for them.

However, it is important to note that even though they are not addictive, this doesn’t mean that you can stop taking them suddenly. This is because sudden withdrawal from these medicines often result in withdrawal effects that are very unpleasant.

A doctor will be able to assist in the process of withdrawing from a psychiatric medicine. If not done properly, discontinuing medicine can cause many problems.

It is important to note that Benzodiazepines are addictive and should not be taken for longer than intended. They can cause addiction and should only ever be taken when needed and for a short period of time.

What Happens if Medication doesn’t work?

It is advisable for medication to be taken in conjunction with regular talking therapy. Therapy can be an excellent way of targeting the underlying symptoms of a condition.

We have an article that compares talking therapy and medication – which you can read here. But when used together, they can be very effective.

If your medication doesn’t work, remember not to be disheartened. Dosage increases, changing medicines and adding another medicine are all common approaches that can improve your chances of success. You can read more about this here.

If none of these methods work, then it could be advisable to try a treatment that is considered an “alternative and complimentary” treatment. While these aren’t conventional treatments, they have helped some people to see an improvement in their mental health when medicines have not helped. You can read more about alternative and complimentary treatments at this link.

Information on Mental Health General

Our website has a lot of information on the medicines. You can see some key articles below:


This article has provided a general overview of the topic of mental health medication. There is a lot to know about mental health medicine – hopefully this article has been a good starting point.

You can find out more about medication by visiting our dedicated medication section. Our website is full of useful information on all aspects of mental health – you can see our homepage here.

See Also



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We strive to keep all of our pages updated, and ensure that our website is full of factual and in-depth information. However, we encourage you to browse this website with care.

As a reminder, this website and all content within it cannot and should not replace the advice of a trained medical professional. You can read our full disclaimer at this link.


If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.