Clinical Psychopharmacology: Principles and Practice

Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH

August 21 – 25, 2017 • Monday – Friday

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This seminar will address the clinically important science of psychopharmacology as applied to treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and anxiety disorders, with a focus on topics of importance for practicing clinicians. The principles of clinical psychopharmacology will be examined, emphasizing basic pharmacology of drug classes, including mechanisms of action, pharmacokinetics, and side effects. We will examine the conceptual and statistical basis for interpreting the above pharmacology and clinical trial evidence. The practice of clinical psychopharmacology will be discussed, emphasizing clinical trial results of efficacy in the major clinical settings of depression, anxiety, mania, and psychosis. We will explore concepts in making clinical decisions about when to treat and when not to treat with medications. This seminar will provide essential principles helpful to all practicing clinicians.


Upon completion of this seminar, participants will be able to:


  • Understand the biological mechanisms of action of the major psychotropic drug classes;
  • Understand the basic neuroanatomy of the brain that is relevant to clinical psychopharmacology;
  • Describe the evidence supporting short-term and long-term treatment of patients with psychotic, bipolar, major depressive, and anxiety disorders;
  • Implement clinical practices with antianxiety meds and hypnotics based on best randomized clinical trials for generalized anxiety disorder and insomnia;
  • Implement clinical practice with antipsychotics based on the best randomized clinical trials for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression;
  • Implement clinical practice with mood stabilizers based on the best randomized clinical trials for bipolar disorder and depression;
  • Implement clinical practice with antidepressants based on the best randomized clinical trials for depression and bipolar disorder;
  • Explain basic risks and side effects of major drug classes;
  • Assess potentially severe adverse effects of psychotropic drug treatment, and improve skills in limiting risk and avoiding adverse events;
  • Employ medications with understanding of pharmacokinetic interactions;
  • Identify relevant factors in medication use in children and the elderly and in medical illnesses such as cardiovascular disease;
  • Better integrate psychopharmacology into comprehensive care of psychiatric patients;
  • Critically assess advantages and limitations of psychopharmacology and its impact on the theory and practice of contemporary clinical psychiatry.




Monday, August 21, 2017

  • Basic neurobiology and pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetics.
  • Psychopharmacologic treatment of anxiety spectrum disorders and insomnia; Q&A.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

  • Statistics principles for study interpretation; antipsychotics: clinical psychopharmacology trials in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression: evaluation of efficacy and safety data.
  • Side effects and risk; Q&A discussion.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

  • Mood stabilizers: nosology of bipolar disorders; research evidence for mood stabilizer use in mood disorders.
  • Side effects and risk; clinical practice with mood stabilizers; Q&A.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

  • Depression: antidepressants and amphetamines; tricyclics, SSRIs and new antidepressants.
  • Combination and augmentation strategies; research evidence for antidepressant use, amphetamines use and side effects and risk.


Friday, August 25, 2017

  • Special topics: children, the elderly, co-morbid medical illnesses
  • Q&A and discussion.