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Anyone can develop a mental illness—you, a family member, a friend, or a neighbor. Some disorders are mild; others are serious and long-lasting. These conditions can be diagnosed and treated. Most people can live better lives after treatment. And psychotherapeutic medications are an increasingly important element in the successful treatment of mental illness.

Medications for mental illnesses were first introduced in the early 1950s with the antipsychotic chlorpromazine. Other medications to treat all types of mental illness have followed. These medications have changed the lives of people with these disorders for the better.

During the 1990s, great strides in understanding mental illness were made and more effective psychotropic medications were developed. This time period has been called the”Decade of the Brain”. Discoveries made during this time have led to new research capabilities, and have focused on such aspects as the environment’s impact on brain functioning. Pharmaceutical companies have advanced the effectiveness of medications for those diagnosed with illnesses such as Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, Depression, and Attention Deficit Disorder. Children and adults with mental illness can look forward to a new generation of medication targeting specific chemical imbalances related to mental illness. Over the past decade, great advances have been made and the treatment focus and outlook towards mental illness has changed to a “recovery” model.

For information on the specific medications used to treat different types of mental illness, and their side effects, visit The National Institute of Mental Health.