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by Dr V. R.
Last updated: June 2017 by Dr Balarao
‘In the diseases of the mind…it is
an art of no little importance to administer medicines properly;
but, it is an art of much greater importance and more difficult
acquisition to know when to suspend or altogether omit
them.’ Philippe Pinel
Steven Stahl describes polypharmacy as a ‘dirty little secret’
and ‘…polypharmacy thus seems to be something everybody does and
nobody admits’ (Stahl, 1999).
Polypharmacy has increased manifold in the last 30 years.
However, it is important to remember that most
medical conditions are treated with more than one medication.
Psychiatric disorders are no less complex than physical illnesses,
and there is a specific clinical role for polypharmacy in
the management of the most difficult-to-treat and resistant
The aim of this module is to familiarise and
involve psychiatrists in the debate on polypharmacy, with
particular regard to the balance between benefits and
harms using multiple drugs.
If you like this module, you may also be
Physical healthcare in severe mental illness by
Dr Steve Brown
The pharmacological management of anxiety
disorders by Dr Zia Nadeem and Dr Allan Scott
The pharmacological treatment of resistant
depression by Professor Phillip J. Cowen
Download take-home notes to print and