Introduction

Much of what we know about the biological foundations of psychiatric disorders comes from pharmacological studies. Pharmacology deals with all aspects of the interaction of chemicals with biological systems, and psychopharmacology refers to the interactions of drugs that are used primarily because of their effects on the central nervous system (CNS).

Pharmacologists often divide their science into two main parts: pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. In the simplest terms, pharmacokinetics attempts to describe what the body does to the drug, and pharmacodynamics describes what the drug does to the body. In studies of mental illnesses, pharmacodynamics reveals the molecular substrates of drugs that influence mental states, and hence molecular and cellular contributors to particular mental conditions. After examining the basic principles of pharmacodynamics, we shall, nevertheless, turn to the basic principles of the seemingly more abstract and boring pharmacokinetics, details of which frequently are the place

Textbook of Biological Psychiatry. Edited by Jaak Panksepp Copyright © 2004 by Wiley-Liss, Inc. ISBN: 0-471-43478-7

where the devil rests. Given the scope of this book, the examples are taken from drugs acting on the CNS, and the focus of the discussion is set in consideration of relevance to pharmacotherapy of mental disorders and related research.

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