Psychopharmacology is the study of medications used to treat mental disorders affecting mood, attention, behavior, and thought processes. Though these medications vary widely in their composition, many of them work by targeting neurotransmitters in the brain—usually by stimulating or inhibiting their release or blocking their reuptake in the nervous system.

Psychopharmacology has become a major approach to treatment in primary medical care. In the past few decades, the use of medications to alleviate the symptoms of mental disorders—particularly depression or attention deficit disorder—has become highly efficient. These medications are the most widely prescribedtoday.

Through extensive research, the numerous benefits of psychopharmacology have been noted in the treatment of many different mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects 2.4 million American adults, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, most often before the age of 30. Symptoms of this mental illness can include hallucinations, hearing voices, and/or having delusions. More than 50 years of data show that people with schizophrenia who take the prescribed medications lower their risk of relapse. Relapse -- meaning symptoms get worse or come back after a period of improvement -- is a common occurrence in people with schizophrenia. Studies also show that people treated with these medications are less likely to be hospitalized or to behave aggressively or violently.