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Medicating for Mental Health: Judicious Use of Psychiatric Drugs

Colgate University via edX


It is highly likely that you, a member of your family, or a close friend will face the decision of whether to use a medication to treat a diagnosed psychiatric disorder. Do you have the skills and knowledge to participate in the decision to use a drug as therapy?

This course prepares you to be an effective collaborator with your physician, psychiatrist, or psychologist when deciding if a medication is appropriate treatment. The course introduces fundamental principles for the use of drugs as therapy. It encourages students to have realistic goals regarding the strengths and limitations of psychiatric medications. It provides basic understanding of how a drug acts upon the brain to improve behavioral symptoms. You will learn how new drugs are developed to become viable options for treatment, and how they are ultimately approved for being prescribed. Additionally, this course provides perspective on the proper use of psychiatric medication as a part of a multifactor treatment program.

Altogether, you will acquire a working knowledge to gain confidence that a psychiatric medication is being used wisely to give the best advantage for a successful improvement of symptoms while minimizing risk of side effects.


Course Outline and Schedule
Week 1 The Proper Role of Psychiatric Medications
Module 1--Introduction
Module 2--Does it make sense to medicate for psychiatric illness?
Module 3--How are psychiatric medications discovered?
Assessment for Week 1
Week 2 The Brain’s Response to Psychiatric Medications
Module 1--What do psychiatric medications do to the brain?
Module 2--What can we realistically expect when medicating for mental illness?
Assessment for Week 2
Week 3 How Does One Know If a Psychiatric Medication Will Be Effective?
Module 1--What is the evidence that psychiatric medications are effective?
Module 2--What factors determine whether a psychiatric medication will be available and effective?
Assessment for Week 3
Week 4 Reasonable Expectations for Psychiatric Medications
Module 1--What special problems face children, adolescents, and the elderly being treated with psychiatric medications?
Module 2--What does the immediate future hold for medicating for psychiatric illness?
Assessment for Week 4
Final Assessment

Taught by

F. Scott Kraly


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