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Polypharmacy in schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by a heterogeneous symptom profile which comprises a clinical platform for widespread use of polypharmacy even though antipsychotic monotherapy is the recommended treatment regimen. This narrative review provides a summary of the current gap between evidence and practice for use of antipsychotic combination therapy in patients with schizophrenia. Antipsychotic polypharmacy is frequently prescribed instead of following international consensus of clozapine monotherapy in treatment-resistant patients. Antipsychotic-benzodiazepine combination therapy clearly has a role in the treatment of acute agitation whereas there is no evidence to support an effect on core schizophrenia symptoms when chronically prescribed. Antidepressants are typically added to antipsychotic treatment in case of persistent negative symptoms. Available evidence suggests that antidepressants may improve negative symptom control in schizophrenia. Combining an antipsychotic with an antiepileptic is not supported by any firm evidence, but individual mood stabilizers have come out positively in single trials. Generally, the evidence base for polypharmacy in schizophrenia maintenance treatment is sparse but may be warranted in certain clinical situations. Therapeutic benefits and side effects should be carefully monitored and considered to ensure a beneficial risk-benefit ratio if prescribing polypharmacy for specific clinical indications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126(3)
JournalBasic & clinical pharmacology & toxicology
Volume126
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
ISSN1742-7843
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

    Research areas

  • antidepressants, antiepileptics, antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, combination treatment

ID: 59086833