When chemical affect the central nervous system, they can have several effects on the working of the system. However, as the central nervous system is so complex, researchers are still trying to gain full knowledge of how the system and its neurotransmitters work. Hence, any explanation given on chemical effects to the central nervous system is rather limited and vague.
However, researchers do know that chemicals can have a stimulating, depressing, narcotic or hallucinogenic effect on the central nervous system. In fact, this knowledge is used to treat several mental illnesses.
Stimulant chemicals cause the central nervous system to get excited. Some examples of stimulants include amphetamines and caffeine. Stimulants increase mental alertness and also help in reducing tiredness and drowsiness. However, if taken in high doses, stimulants can result in nervousness, tremors, irritability and headaches. At times, stimulants can end up being addictive and if a person is not given that particular stimulant, the central nervous system begins protesting and the person experiences withdrawal symptoms, such as perspiration, headache, nervousness and irritability.
Antidepressant chemicals have an opposite effect of stimulant chemicals. Usually, it has been seen in people suffering from depression that they are deficit in a neurotransmitter known as norepinephrine. So, to enhance this neurotransmitter and alleviate depression, anti-depressant chemicals are prescribed to the person.
Hallucinogenic chemicals affect the central nervous system by creating sensory illusions and hallucinations. These chemicals change the thought as well as sensory perceptions. Hallucinogenic chemicals can be used in people for medical purposes, such as treating a patient through psychotherapy, or they can be used by the person illegally. It is believed that hallucinogenic chemicals have an effect on the serotonin receptor sites of the neurons present in the central nervous system. However, researchers are still unaware whether these chemical cause the sites to get excited or inhibited.
Narcotic chemicals work as analgesics and help to relieve pain. These chemicals can be termed as selective CNS depressants that are primarily used to alleviate pain. However, narcotic chemicals can result in side effects, such as respiratory problems, drowsiness and nausea. If these chemicals are used on a long-term basis, they can result in addiction. Analgesics act on the medulla and cerebrum of the CNS and they also have an effect on smooth muscles and glands associated with the respiratory tract and the gastrointestinal tract. However, researchers still do not know how narcotic chemicals react with receptor sites of neurons.
But it is for certain that all chemicals used on the central nervous system affect receptor sites of different neurons.
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