Polypharmacy: Can You Have More Than One Mental Illness At A Time?

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  • Recent genetics research revealed that people can suffer from multiple psychiatric conditions at the same time.
  • Experts recommend tapping into psychiatric polypharmacy to combat the mental health crisis.

Overlapping Psychiatric Disorders

In a 2022 study published in Nature Genetics, a group of international researchers analyzed the genetic makeup and overlapping of eleven major psychiatric disorders. These include disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, autism, substance abuse disorders, etc.

The results revealed the shared genetic architecture between multiple psychiatric conditions—refuting the myth of differential diagnosis. In fact, 152 genetic variants appeared similar across multiple psychiatric comorbidities.

The researchers even claimed that the study can be a major game-changer for mental health treatment. Employing this methodology, mental health professionals (MHPs) can now formulate treatment and polypharmacy plans that address several mental disorders, rather than piecemeal.

Significance Of Psychiatric Polypharmacy

Emerging studies showed that multiple psychiatric diagnoses have almost tripled from 2017 to 2021. The numbers are expected to rise, thanks to the gaping mental health crisis in the post-pandemic period. Aside from therapy and self-help strategies, the cornerstone of such diagnoses is pharmacology.

However, experts note that psychiatric polypharmacy is plagued by prejudice. One 2019 study states that “low levels of literacy and high levels of material disadvantage, which are common among public mental health service users, complicate the management and meaning of multiple medications.”

Measures To Boost Psychiatric Polypharmacy

According to medical practitioners, psychoeducation, physician’s education, and “personalized medicine” can be effective in optimizing psychiatric polypharmacy in public mental health services.

For instance, a 2013 study recommends that “customized health care with decisions and practices tailored to individual patients based upon genetic findings” can greatly improve treatment outcomes in patients with severe psychiatric disorders.

Sail-ing With The TIDE

As polypharmacy in multiple psychiatric diagnoses is a rather complex but necessary affair, experts have settled on a well-structured approach to pharmacology. They use the acronyms SAIL and TIDE, respectively.

SAIL stands for:

  • S: Keep drug regimen SIMPLE
  • A: Know drug ADVERSE effects
  • I: The prescribed drug should have a clear INDICATION
  • L: keep a LIST of drug names and dosages in the patient’s chart

Whereas, TIDE stands for:

  • T: Allow TIME to address medication issues
  • I: Understand INDIVIDUAL variability
  • D: Avoid potential dangerous DRUG-USE interactions
  • E: EDUCATE patients regarding treatment

The ultimate barrier to reaping the full benefits of psychiatric polypharmacy is the fear of confusion and a lack of a regimented procedure. Hopefully, with more research and clinical practice, the process and success associated with mental health medication would be more seamless and far-reaching.

Know More About –

  1. Psychiatry
  2. Bipolar Disorder
  3. Manic Depression

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  • Polypharmacy: Can You Have More Than One Mental Illness At A Time?