What is Psychopharmacology?

Updated December 1, 2022 · 2 Min Read

Explore this resource by Best Counseling Degrees to learn all about psychopharmacology.

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What is psychopharmacology? A field that has been mired in confusion, it is the field that showcases how cannabis could help anxiety sufferers, teaches us about the different side effects of drugs on our mood or behavior, and more. Here is a short primer on the field and why it’s necessary for the mental health community.


Psychopharmacology refers to the study of drugs and the effects it has on mood, thinking, behavior, and sensation. It brings together psychology, neurology, chemistry, and other STEM fields in order to build a specialized field that focuses on learning what drugs are helpful for individuals who are trying to maintain mental health conditions. This field has been in existence since at least the 1920s; since then, it has moved into learning how certain drugs react with specific parts of the brain. It also studies the differences in reaction between organic and natural medicines and chemically-produced drugs.

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Neurological Aspects

This is different from Neuropsychopharmacology, which focuses on the changes in consciousness and behavior. However, because it focuses on the chemical balances in the brain, which can be altered by drugs, this field has a strong focus in neurological aspects. This field focuses on mood, thinking, sensation, and behavior, which are all aspects that are controlled by the brain. Because these aspects are easily changed by the introduction of drugs into the system, this field is best attended to by psychiatrists and physicians who have been through medical school; their advanced understanding of chemistry and neurology is necessary for the psychological advancement of drugs used to help treat mental health conditions.

Psychopharmacological Research

There is a great deal of psychopharmacological research happening right now in America. This has come about because as society learns more about the side effects of the drugs on the market, more research is being demanded for transparency. This has led to more drugs being researched for their physiochemical properties in a variety of applications, including the so-called “cosmetic psychiatry,” which is a form of prescribing psychotropic medication to patients who do not require it; stronger levels of a drug to help ease the hospitalization of the mental ill; new drug testing based on artificially grown plants; and more.

Importance for the Mental Health Field

As the medical field advances, the importance of this field continues to grow for the mental health community. Learning what drugs can positively or negatively the human body is necessary when prescribing medication for hard-to-treat disorders or conditions. In a society where taking care of oneself is paramount, this field continues to demonstrate that it is possible for individuals to manage their conditions and lead productive lives. The field has a long way to go in terms of research, meaning that more experts in this area will be needed over the coming years, but it has been extremely helpful for those who wish to have normal lives. For psychologists and doctors, the ability to determine which drug would be best for their patients is also important, something this field can deliver on.

A lot, both positive and negative, has been written about this field and what its impact ultimately is on individuals. What cannot be discounted is that individuals with mental disorders are positively benefiting from the introduction of the field. Now that we know the answer to what is psychopharmacology, it is advised that you go on and research the field for more information.

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