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Schizophrenia and Medication…

Schizophrenia is considered to be a lifelong condition, requiring long-term treatment and rehabilitation and long-term use of antipsychotic medication. A new long-term study has revealed the effects of lifetime exposure to several medications commonly used in schizophrenia, including antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, and antidepressants. Researchers how found that long term, high dose use of antipsychotic medication is associated with poorer cognition in patients with schizophrenia; those who were able to take a relatively long break from antipsychotics had fewer cognitive problems. On the other hand, low cumulative exposure to benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and antipsychotic medications did not appear to impact cognition in schizophrenia.

The study included 60 participants that had been diagnosed with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder and had received different medications over the long-term. The individuals underwent an extensive series of cognitive tests when they were 43 years old, having had an average medicine use lasting 16.5 years.

The findings showed that modest long-term use of common psychiatric medications, benzodiazepines and antidepressants had no noticeable effect on cognition. However, when contrasted with the researchers previous findings (reported in January 2017) the high-dose use of antipsychotic drugs was linked to poorer cognition in the long-term, long breaks in antipsychotic treatment seemed to result in better cognitive functioning. The new findings reinforce the team’s research published earlier this year on long-term high-dose antipsychotic use, by showing that long breaks in antipsychotic treatment right before neuropsychological assessment may be linked to better cognitive functioning in schizophrenia.

Link to research paper: http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(09)60995-8.pdf