The Role of Typical and Atypical Antipsychotic Medications in the Management of Agitation and Aggression

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The management of agitation and aggression in psychiatric inpatients is a significant clinical dilemma. Establishing a clear diagnosis and distinguishing whether aggression is an acute manifestation or a longstanding or repetitive problem are fundamental antecedents of medication treatment. For acute aggression, either benzodiazepines or antipsychotic medications (typical and atypical) are recommended choices. Currently, on the basis of efficacy, ease of use, and availability in multiple (tablet, liquid, intramuscular) preparations, typical antipsychotics such as loxapine should be considered as first choice for acute aggression (in psychosis). On the other hand, atypical antipsychotics, particularly clozapine, should be considered when aggression in psychosis persists and/or is repetitive. Typical antipsychotics are indicated for persistent aggression in psychosis when medication noncompliance is the obstacle to effective treatment.

J Clin Psychiatry 1999;60(suppl 10):52-60