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Pimozide-Induced Depression in Men Who Stutter

J Clin Psychiatry 1997;58:433-436

Background: Neuroleptic-related dysphoric reactions are well recognized in the context of psychiatric disorders, especially in association with extrapyramidal side effects. Very few controlled data exist regarding the effects of neuroleptics on the mood of psychiatrically "normal" subjects. In this study, the depressogenic effect of the neuroleptic drug pimozide was assessed in men without psychiatric disorders.

Method: Eight men with developmental stuttering but no past or present psychiatric illness participated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study assessing the effect of 6 weeks of pimozide treatment on speech fluency and mood.

Results: Four of the seven subjects who were compliant with the treatment developed marked depressive symptoms. No clear association was found between these reactions and pimozide dose, blood level, or degree of neurologic side effects. Symptoms abated soon after drug discontinuation.

Conclusion: Pimozide induced significant depressive symptoms in this group of psychiatrically normal men who stutter. Neuroleptic drugs may have a causal effect in the induction of depression in psychiatrically normal subjects, ostensibly independent of dose or severity of neurologic side effects.