A straightforward guide to mental disorders and the drugs that treat them.
In one brief volume, Thompson has gathered an amount of data it would take days to locate on the Web. The author, a physicist â€œwho has an interest in medical treatments for mental illness,” according to his biography, gives a tutorial on brain chemistry, then lists some psychiatric diagnoses (the various types of depression, psychosis, schizophrenia) and the medications usually prescribed to treat those disorders. The book has helpful charts and lists that clearly designate drug chemical names, brand names, on- and off-label uses and common side effects. It also includes the pros and cons for each substance, as well as dangerous symptoms and interactions to watch out for. Particularly nice is the directory of websites, both official and quirky, where psychiatric patients and their friends and families can find reliable information and support. Thompson’s candid writing about the most dreaded of side effects, sexual dysfunction, takes this sensitive subject out of the shadows, presenting it as a surmountable challenge. The author makes a point of stating that he is not a medical doctor, and that MDs are not technically scientists, in the sense that they do little research. While they may be â€œcompetent to treat” patients, MDs don’t often have what Thompson calls a â€œdeep knowledge of psychotropic medications.” Like any good scientist, Thompson is an accumulator of data, and his research is methodical. If there is a weak point to this book, it is the lack of a nuanced approach to psychotropics and the accompanying therapies that develop from experience, observation and work with real patients–the part of psychiatric treatment that is as much art as it is science. Still, Thompson has written a meticulous book, well-organized and indexed, that would be useful to those suffering from mental illness.
A systematic yet approachable view of mental illness and the drugs used to treat it.