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The study of neuroscience aims at enhancing the understanding of the nervous system, its development, as well as its function. Some students who choose to specialize in research on psychiatric disorders qualify to become psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs). In the healthcare sector, PMHNPs play a critical role in offering psychotherapy to clients with mental disorders. Consequently, PMHNPs should be competent in pharmacodynamics and pharmacokinetic processes, performing physical exams and screening history, as well as formulating an initial physical diagnosis.
An understanding of the agonist-to-antagonist spectrum of action is one area that a PMHNP should demonstrate unequaled proficiency. Agonists and antagonists are drugs that directly influence specific receptors to have specific therapeutic outcomes (Melmed et al., 2018). An agonist is a drug or substance that binds with the receptor, where it produces a similar cellular effect that also behaves the same as naturally occurring neurotransmitters while an antagonist is a kind of drug that attaches itself to the receptors, even though it does not activate them. While agonists attach themselves to a receptor site to generate a response, antagonists block the response of drugs. Thus, as psychopharmacological agents, agonists and antagonists help clients with mental disorders to meet treatment goals. Examples of agonists include methadone, morphine, and opium while antagonists include drugs such as naloxone, prazosin, and felodipine.
G-proteins-coupled receptors (GPCR), which are also referred to as seven-transmembrane receptors, are proteins found in the cell membrane, where they bind extracellular substances, as well as transmit signals, to a G protein. According to Zhao, Deng, Jiang & Qing (2016), this process forms a response to vision, olfaction, as well as taste signals. Ion gated channel receptors act as signals that allow rapid and direct conversion from chemical neurotransmitter information to an electrical current within the nervous system (Li, Wong & Liu, 2014). Interaction between GPCR and ion channel receptors helps in increasing the computational aptitude of neuronal signaling cascades, in addition to representing a unique target for the treatment intervention in neuropsychiatric disease.
Epigenetics is a system that controls genes by promoting or repressing their expressions but does not alter the genetic coding within an organism. Epigenetic regulation of genes helps in sustaining normal phenotypic activity within the cells, in addition to playing the role in the development of diseases such as cancer, as well as neurodegenerative disorders that include Alzheimer’s disease (Stefanska & MacEwan, 2015). Several factors that affect epigenetics include physical activity, diet, obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking tobacco, and psychological stress. Thus, PMHNPs must be aware of epigenetic dysregulation, which contributes to the development of various mental disorders.
Foundational neuroscience plays a critical role in the prescription of medication, as it helps in understanding how drugs react to the brain, as well as the behavioral consequences of taking psychiatric medications. A greater understanding of neuropsychology and neurological factors can assist in developing medications to treat and prevent mental health disorders (Sampson & Brazier, 2018). PMHNPs ensure that the knowledge on neuropharmacology can assist in developing safer, as well as more effective treatments that eventually lead to curing and prevention of psychiatric disorders. When treating psychotic disorders, PMHNPs have to choose the most appropriate antipsychotics, which have fewer side effects and can be tolerated effectively by the clients. Understanding side effects of antipsychotics can help in preventing non-compliance, which could, in turn, lead to relapse of the disease.
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