Review of Psychotropic Medications in Thailand
Psychotropic medications refer to medications used to treat mental/psychological disorders. This included antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, as well as antianxiety medications. Stimulant medications used to treat ADHD and narcolepsy are also considered psychotropic medications. At times, Stimulant medications are used “off label” to treat depression as they may provide a lift to the patient mood.
In Thailand, as is common around the world, doctors will often prescribe SSRIs for the treatment of depression. SSRIs include medications, such as Prozac (fluoxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline), which are often prescribed by psychiatrists and general physicians alike in Thailand.
Antipsychotic medications are used to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, although they some atypical antipsychotics may be used to supplement antidepressants in the treatment of major of depression. In this way, Seroquel and Abilify are often used to treat depression. Sometimes Seroquel is used as a sleeping, since it tends to cause drowsiness.
Mood stabilizers are usually used to treat Bipolar disorder, particularly the manic aspects symptoms of Bipolar I and Bipolar II Disorder. The mood stabilizer Depakote or Depakine tends to be prescribed by psychiatrists in Thailand to treat bipolar disorder.
Antianxiety medications are used to treat anxiety and anxiety related problems. Since these medications tend to cause drowsiness, they are often given as a sleep aide. In my opinion, these medications should be used cautiously as they are particularly habit forming. It has been my experience that doctors in Thailand tend to prescribe these medications rather freely; that is, they may overprescribe these medications. These medications can be very effective and helpful, but should be done so on a short-term basis, in my opinion.
Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Concerta, are often prescribe to treat ADHD. In Thailand, these are the only two stimulant medications available for the treatment of ADHD. These stimulant medications may also be used to treat Narcolepsy, since the stimulating qualities of these medications promote wakefulness. Methamphetamine medications such as Adderral are not available in Thailand. Thailand restricts the availability of these methamphetamine medications, since Thai society has a history of methamphetamine abuse and addiction.
Stimulant medications are sometimes used “off label” to treat depression or supplement the use of antidepressants. These medications can lift one’s mood and also help depressed with client by increasing their energy levels.
Medications are commonly used to treat psychological disorders; however, research has found that they are more effective when combined with psychotherapy. In other words, they are not a magic pill or cure all. If you think you have mental disorder, it is important to seek psychotherapy and not just go to the pharmacy to buy medications. If you choose to take medications, it’s important to see a qualified psychiatrist to prescribe medications. If you are interested in seeing a psychiatrist in Bangkok, I recommend Dr. Thani at BNH hospital. If you are interested in psychotherapy, counseling, or life coaching, one of the psychologists, counselors, psychotherapists at Lighthouse Human Services in Bangkok, Thailand would be happy to schedule an appointment to meet with you.
Eric K. Mason