Understanding Psychotropic Drugs

Conceptual Close-Up Of A Pill
Carolyn Lagattuta / EyeEm / Getty Images
Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

If you've been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD), your healthcare provider might prescribe psychotropic drugs as part of your treatment plan. In fact, some estimates are that one in three patients in psychotherapy take psychotropics.

When used in combination with psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs can be a powerful tool in managing your mental illness, especially if you're struggling with daily tasks or having trouble getting out of bed. That said, these drugs aren't for everyone and should never be taken without a prescription.

Why Psychotropics Are Prescribed

Psychotropics have been proven to help people with mental illness, including BPD as well as anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia.

The National Institute of Mental Health found that patients with depression who were prescribed a psychotropic showed more progress in two months than those who went without treatment showed their entire lives.

Psychotropic drugs are by no means a cure-all. Instead, they work to help minimize symptoms of BPD, like intense mood swings or violent episodes, that can interfere with therapy. Psychotropics take the edge off so you can develop skills to cope with and better manage your mental health.


Depending on your mental health condition and symptoms, your doctor could prescribe one of the following types of psychotropics:

Facts About These Drugs

Many psychotropic drugs are not designed to work instantly. For some, the medications can take several weeks to have their full effect, while others may need to try several different medications before finding the right one. Everyone responds to medication differently, so do your best to be patient and keep your healthcare provider informed on how you're feeling.

Before taking psychotropic drugs, be sure to share with your healthcare provider any known medical issues, such as heart conditions, diabetes, or high blood pressure, to ensure the medication won't aggravate these preexisting conditions.

Side Effects

Like all drugs, psychotropics come with a range of side effects, some of these include:

  • Cardiac issues
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Sexual side effects
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Weight gain

While psychotropic drugs can help regulate your emotions and mood, they can also sometimes adversely impact your emotions. For example, you might have a hard time crying when you truly feel sad.

If psychotropics make you feel "just not like yourself," tell your doctor so she can find alternative medications—or other treatment strategies—to help you best manage life with BPD.

Was this page helpful?
2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. M. PR, Z. BK, Joel JJ. Clinical Handbook of Psychotropic Drugs. Hogrefe Verlag; 2019.

  2. National Institute of Mental Health. Mental Health Medications.

Additional Reading