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Book Reviews

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Medicines for Mental Health: The Ultimate Guide to Psychiatric Medication
freely available hyperlinked web version
Kevin Thompson, Ph.D.

Yet another guide to psychotropic medication? Yes, but with three outstanding features which makes it worthwhile featuring here. 1). It is up to date and includes all of the latest drugs for the disorders it discusses. 2) It strikes a reasonable balance between pharmaceutical industry wonderdrug hype and anti-drug lobby catastrophism. 3) It is freely available on the web and not as a simple pdf file but as an extensively hyperlinked text with glossary and cross-referencing. It is also available as a regular paperback for those who prefer the touch of paper.

Critics will point out that this book is not written by a psychiatrist or even a medically qualified doctor - the author has a PhD in physics from Princeton University and carried out research in astrophysics and computational fluid dynamics for NASA before moving on to the world of web-based software. The time when medical information was a jealously guarded secret of the medical profession is thankfully gone for ever - thanks to the Internet. The author obviously knows his way around the web where has he gleaned most of the information in this book. His lack of medical training probably brings him closer to patients and families and leaves him in a "no axe to grind" position.

The book discusses most of the major psychiatric disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia... but surprisingly not the anxiety disorders... with a background explanation of what we know about the disorder followed by the various on- and off-label treatments available, their mechanisms and their pros and cons. As surprising as the omission of the anxiety disorders is the inclusion of sexual dysfunction. The author justifies this by the fact that many psychotropic drugs cause and/or treat sexual dysfunction.

For those with a practical interest in psychotropic medication such as patients, their families and carers this book is a very convenient "first stop" in understanding treatment with psychotropic medication. For non-specialist health professionals it is a useful reference for filling in the gaps in their knowledge and keeping up with this rapidly moving area. For the health professional specialising in psychotropic therapy it can be useful as an educational tool for recommending to their patients and thus increasing their complicity.

Mike Briley

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