As one might expect from authors who are pharmacologists, there is a wealth of information regarding pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of psychotropic medications; drug interactions; and mechanisms of therapeutic effects and side effects, as well as clinical prescribing advice. For example, here is the second of 10 recommendations concerning the use of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs): "A rational method for selecting a TCA is to narrow the choice to a dimethylated TCA (eg, imipramine(Drug information on imipramine)) and a monomethylated TCA (eg, nortriptyline(Drug information on nortriptyline)), and make the choice between them on the basis of the patient's sedation requirements and ability to tolerate orthostatic hypotension, weight gain, and anticholinergic adverse effects." This model of accurate descriptive pharmacology and concise clinical recommendation about the use of a class of drugs is an example of the pithy advice that extends throughout the book to the delight of this reader.
The appendixes are also a model of clarity and accessibility and are alone worth the price of the book. They include psychotropic drug product lists; drug effects on pregnancy and lactation; pharmacokinetic drug parameters (metabolic pathways, oral availability, protein binding, clearance, volume of distribution, and elimination half-life); and a wonderful appendix on drug interactions, including their significance and clinical recommendations.
I strongly recommend the 8th edition of the Psychotropic Drug Handbook for the psychiatrist's daily use. Clinicians, academics, and students will find the information accessible, comprehensive, and practical.
Dr Salzman is a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston.