Common Treatment Goals of Antipsychotics: Acute Treatment

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When a patient with an acute exacerbation of schizophrenia is admitted into the hospital, the target symptoms include pathologic excitement/agitation and exacerbated psychotic symptoms. The goal of hospitalization becomes attenuation of these symptoms to a level compatible with safe discharge. The mainstay of stabilization is antipsychotic treatment. A risk/benefit analysis of the conventional versus the newer antipsychotics favors the use of the newer agents as first-line drugs. These newer antipsychotic agents represent the first significant advance in the pharmacologic treatment of schizophrenia in the past four decades. They are at least as effective as conventional agents and are clearly superior from a safety perspective. Because of short inpatient stays, the challenge for clinicians is to provide an adequate treatment period without aggressively escalating the dose.

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(suppl 19):5–8