Mental disorder is often thought of as a subject discussed behind closed doors. This societal view of mental disorder is one of the major setbacks in providing a sustainable treatment for the illness.
Psychosis is a mental disorder that has been misunderstood for quite some time. Despite the stigma that comes with this illness, studies have shown that any person could experience psychotic episodes if subjected to certain trauma or conditions.
Psychosis is a mental illness that causes one to lose touch with reality. Psychosis is not the same for everyone; the symptoms separate one version of psychosis from another. The symptoms of psychosis are treatable and many who have suffered from it have led perfectly normal, happy lives.
Antipsychotics are helpful drugs in treating the symptoms of psychosis. In this article, we would examine antipsychotics, the types of antipsychotics, how they work, and Cannabidiol (CBD) potential as an antipsychotic.
Symptoms of Psychosis
Certain changes may occur before psychosis is developed in a person. Some of these changes may be gradual or rapid depending on various environmental and neurologic factors. These can include;
- Poor concentration
- Suicidal thoughts
- Too much or too little sleep
- Confused, disrupted patterns of thought
Causes of Psychosis
Doctors believe that the release of excess dopamine is a contributing factor in the cause of psychosis. There is no root cause for psychosis. However, some factors may increase the risk or trigger the illness:-
- Hereditary factors
- Lack of sleep
- Environmental factors
- Drug usage
How do Antipsychotics work?
To effectively understand how antipsychotics work, first we need to understand how psychosis manifests - It is complex, and it varies from person to person.
Typically, it may be a combined experience of auditory and visual hallucination so intense that the person thinks and believes it is their reality. These thoughts are called delusions. So how do antipsychotics come into play?
By studying the connection between dopamine in cocaine addiction and psychosis, doctors have been able to find a relationship between high levels of dopamine and psychosis. To this end, antipsychotics work by creating a balance in the level of dopamine secreted in the hypothalamus of the brain. This usually comes in a calming effect referred to as sedation.
Types of Antipsychotics
There are two major types of antipsychotic medication. This classification is made concerning the era by which the medication is used.
- First Generation (Typical)
These kinds of medication have been discovered since the 1950s. Older antipsychotics are usually characterized by their severe neuromuscular side effects. Other than that, there is not much difference between the two generations of antipsychotics. Examples of the first generation include Benperidol, Chlorpromazine, and Flupentixol.
- Second Generation (Atypical)
They are referred to as newer antipsychotic medication. They are medications that have been commonly used since the 1990s although some were discovered much earlier than that. Newer medications also have side effects albeit less than their older counterpart. Here are some of the more commonly used atypical antipsychotics: Amisulpride, Aripiprazole, and Clozapine.
Though this classification is according to the year of usage, each medication does not work for all kinds of psychosis. Seek the advice of a physician before using any of these medications.
Are Antipsychotics Safe?
Antipsychotics are used in the treatment of schizophrenia and mania. Some doctors have also used these medications in severe cases of depression and dementia. Normally, antipsychotics are prescribed based on occurring symptoms and concerning other underlying health issues.
Statistics show that 8 in every 10 people who take these medications are likely to see improvements in their symptoms. Unfortunately, most psychotic patients tend to use their medications for a long time.
Typically antipsychotics are not without their fair share of side effects. Some have even described the effects as more burdensome than the illness itself, yet side effects usually vary among patients. Some of the more common side effects include: movement disorders, drowsiness, blurry vision, and weight gain.
Can CBD Be Used As An Antipsychotic?
CBD is an emerging homoeopathic treatment option that has been (according to research) successful in the treatment practices of Diabetes, Seizure Disorder, and Inflammation. This has raised questions about other benefits that CBD may have.
There are studies carried out to test the beneficial potential of CBD on psychosis. These studies theorized that CBD may prove to be an effective antipsychotic through the increase of Endocannabinoid Anandamide which will cause a resultant decrease in psychotic symptoms.
A human and animal experimental study was carried out to test CBD as an adjunct to conventional antipsychotics. In this study, positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions showed moderate improvement while CBD did not respond to the negative symptoms. However, since this study did not cover CBD as a standalone medication, it is safe to say that further research is required.
Additionally, the pattern of distribution of CBD 1 receptors in the brain in a human experimental study revealed that CBD is majorly connected to cognitive processes like learning and memory which are cognitive functions that are most likely to be impaired in psychosis. Though substantial scientific evidence is yet to be found. In time CBD will undoubtedly play a vital role in pharmacology concerning psychosis treatments.
Psychosis is a very serious mental health condition that should not be overlooked nor stigmatized. Decades of studies have been carried out to develop the various kinds of antipsychotic presently used. However, the side effects of most of these medications are extremely severe and burdensome.
The antipsychotic potential of CBD is still at its early stage and has yet to gain enough momentum to answer the questions that are frequently asked. But one thing is certain, if CBD’s antipsychotic potential is eventually tested positive, it may prove to be a key ingredient in future medication.