Long-Term Considerations After Switching Antipsychotics

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The so-called “atypical” antipsychotics are rapidly becoming the de facto standard pharmacologic treatment of schizophrenia. This article reviews some common psychopharmacologic and psychological issues that may arise after an outpatient with schizophrenia is switched to one of the newer antipsychotics. Important issues to consider in the first few months after switching include assessment of response to the new medication, dealing with subsequent psychological reactions, and management of an unsatisfactory response. Once the response is established, there are other pharmacologic and psychological issues that arise during the next year or two. Pharmacologic issues that emerge later on include the role of long-term combination antipsychotics, management of new side effects, and deciding whether and when to switch again. Some of the long-term psychological issues include changes in self-image that arise from being less visibly ill, sexuality and intimacy concerns, and recovery issues.

J Clin Psychiatry 1998;59(suppl 19):36–49