Polypharmacy: causes and consequences

by Dr V. R. Badrakalimuthu

 

Last updated: June 2017 by Dr Balarao Oruganti

 

In the diseases of the mind…it is an art of no little importance to administer medicines properly; but, it is an art of much greater importance and more difficult acquisition to know when to suspend or altogether omit them.’  Philippe Pinel

 

Steven Stahl describes polypharmacy as a ‘dirty little secret’ and ‘…polypharmacy thus seems to be something everybody does and nobody admits’ (Stahl, 1999). Polypharmacy has increased manifold in the last 30 years.

 

However, it is important to remember that most medical conditions are treated with more than one medication. Psychiatric disorders are no less complex than physical illnesses, and there is a specific clinical role for polypharmacy in the management of the most difficult-to-treat and resistant psychiatric disorders.

 

The aim of this module is to familiarise and involve psychiatrists in the debate on polypharmacy, with particular regard to the balance between benefits and harms using multiple drugs.

 

Start the module

 

 

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:

 

Physical healthcare in severe mental illness by Dr Steve Brown

 

The pharmacological management of anxiety disorders by Dr Zia Nadeem and Dr Allan Scott

 

The pharmacological treatment of resistant depression by Professor Phillip J. Cowen

 

 

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© 2017 Royal College of Psychiatrists