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Kelsey Powell

Professor Morean

English 1201

12 March 2020

Literature Review

Beginning in 8th century B.C, demonology was the belief that an evil spirit could obtain

someone’s mind and body and control his or her thoughts and actions, presenting as a mental

illness. This was a common explanation in the history of mental illnesses. “Mental disorders are

health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, and/or behavior that are

associated with distress and/or impaired functioning. Mental disorders contribute to a host of

problems that may include disability, pain, or death (Mental Health and Mental Disorders).”

Mental illness is a topic of discussion in various life situations. Having depression or anxiety is a

normal part of life because of certain life stressors. Situational anxiety can help us to perform at

our most efficient levels. However, when depression or anxiety becomes abnormal, it can greatly

affect the sufferer. This is when it becomes a disorder, and it can leave the sufferer asking the

question, “What is the most efficient way to deal with my mental illness, therapy or

medication?”

While a sufferer will not be put on display in an asylum or sterilized for being mentally

ill, also known as eugenics (Birnbaum), he or she still will greatly suffer as a “cure” for anxiety

and other mental illnesses are still unavailable. This is because the causes of mental illness are

not always black and white for every single person. While some people may suffer from mental

illness because of a chemical imbalance, others suffer from mental illness because of trauma, life

situations, or a host of other reasons. So, creating one single “cure” for these illnesses is
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generally not possible. However, there are ways to manage mental illness, thanks to modern

medicine and psychotherapy.

A commonly used medication for depression or anxiety is called a Selective Serotonin

Reuptake Inhibitor, also known as SSRIs. This medication can be successful in treating mental

illnesses that are due to an imbalance of a neurotransmitter called Serotonin. On the other hand,

Mikkelsen states that they can also pose serious risks and side effects. He highlights that the

common side effects of SSRIs are serotonin sydrome, suicidal thoughts, insomnia, increased

anxiety, constipation, or difficulty concentrating (Mikkelsen). For primary anxiety disorders,

benzodiazepines are used cautiously, but they can be very addicting and cause more harm as a

result of dependency (Becoming Addicted to Your Treatment Medication).

Another form of treatment for mental disorders is therapy. There are many forms,

including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, ECT, and Exposure Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral

Therapy focuses on changing the negative behaviors that come with mental illness to

successfully allow the patient to manage his or her symptoms (Kaczkurkin). ECT,

electroconvulsive therapy resets the brain’s neurotransmitters and has been shown to be effective

short-term for depression. It is successful for medication and therapy-resistent depression. “The

treatment involves sending an electric current through the brain, under general anaesthetic, to

cause a fit. Although it is not exactly known how it works, one theory is that the fit triggers

certain brain chemicals, including the 'feelgood' chemical, serotonin, which is thought to be

depleted in patients with severe depression (Moss).

While the question remains whether medication or therapy is the best treatment available

to treat mental illness, it is for certain that either one, or a combination of both, can give a

sufferer hope in dealing with a mental illness. Mikkelsen states in his presentation that it is
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estimated that 54-60% of adults are on or have been on psychotropic medications. This was in

2011, and that number has continued to grow. Analyzing therapy in place of medications will

help me to further answer the question of how therapy can be more efficient in the long term than

psychotropic medications.

Works Cited

“Becoming Addicted to Your Treatment Medication,” Foundation Recovery Network,

DualDianosis,org, https://dualdiagnosis.org/drug-addiction/addicted-to-

treatmentmedication/. Accessed 20 March 2020.

Birnbaum, M. “Eugenic Sterilization: a Discussion of Certain Legal, Medical, and Moral Aspects

of Present Practices in Our Public Mental Institutions.” JAMA, U.S. National Library of

Medicine, 18 Mar. 1961, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12332119. Accessed 20 March

2020.

LAURA MOSS. “Electric-Shock Therapy Lifted Me from the Hell of Depression.” Daily Mail,

20 Sept. 2011, p. 42. EBSCOhost,

search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nfh&AN=65517056&site=ehost-live.

Accessed 20 March 2020.

“Mental Health and Mental Disorders.” Healthy People 2020, ODPHP,

www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/mental-health-and-mental-

disorders. Accessed 20 March 2020.


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Mikkelsen, Edwin. “Psychotropic Medications and Adverse Side Effects.” UMASS Medical

School, Commonwealth Medicine, 1 July 2015,

shriver.umassmed.edu/sites/shriver.umassmed.edu/files/DDS%20Webinar_Psy%20meds_f

inal2.pdf. Accessed 20 March 2020.