General Principles of Psychopharmacology

  • James M. WilliamsEmail author
  • George T. Grossberg


Much of psychopharmacology started as simple observations of chemical-induced improvement in psychotic and affective disorders. Once early antidepressants, antipsychotics, and mood stabilizers were discovered to have efficacy in the 1950s, considerable efforts were taken to describe the pharmacology and neurobiology of psychiatric conditions and medications. With the exponential increase in knowledge of psychotropes, clinicians have had trouble sifting through the pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, indications, contraindications, side effects, interactions, dosages, and special indications for individual drugs and classes of these drugs. Despite the breadth, a basic understanding of psychotropes is necessary for patients to receive the most effective treatment while avoiding treatment-associated complications. Understanding some of the fundamentals of psychopharmacology will make drug navigation less of a task of memorization and more of an exercise in concept practice. When encountering complex patients on multiple medications, it can be comforting to consult a clinical guide for reminders of important issues such as hepatic P450 metabolic route and need for laboratory monitoring. Rather than mulling over every side effect of each individual drug, it’s helpful to remember mechanisms of action and predictable side effects from altering a neurotransmitter pathway such as adrenergic, serotonergic, cholinergic, or histaminergic neurotransmission.


General principles of psychopharmacology Psychopharmacology general principles Neurobiology and psychopharmacology Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in psychopharmacology Drug regimens in psychopharmacology Drug interactions in psychopharmacology 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. Louis University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA
  2. 2.Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral NeuroscienceSt. Louis University School of MedicineSt. LouisUSA

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