Antipsychotic medications clozapine and haloperidol treat the hallucinations, delusions and agitation of schizophrenia, while the mood stabilizer lithium is effective for treating bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Some individuals with manic-depressive illness, or bipolar disorder, find the anticonvulsants valproic acid and lamotrigine more effective than lithium, and others combine mood stabilizers with antipsychotics or antidepressants, such as paroxetine or sertraline.
Psychiatric drugs, often called psychotropic or psychotherapeutic medications, used to treat depression include the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, citalopram, fluoxetine and escitalopram, reports the National Institute of Mental Health. Popular antidepressant SNRIs, or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, include venlafaxine and duloxetine, while bupropion regulates the neurotransmitter dopamine. The newer SSRI and SNRI medications cause fewer side effects than the older antidepressants from the tricyclic and monoamine oxidase inhibitor families, but for some individuals with depression, these remain the most effective options.
Fast-acting benzodiazepines such as Xanax treat the symptoms of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and social phobia, explains the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Certain beta-blockers typically used to treat heart conditions are sometimes effective for managing the physical symptoms associated with phobias, such as sweating and shaking. Some psychiatric drugs work quickly, and others need several weeks before symptoms improve. Doctors often recommend combining psychotherapy with medications for greater symptom relief, and often an individual may need to try more than one drug, or a combination of drugs, to determine the most effective dosage and treatment plan.