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Immediate Effect of Intravenous Diazepam in Neuroleptic-Induced Acute Akathisia: An Open-Label Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2002;63(6):524-527

Background: Neuroleptic-induced akathisia can be severely distressing to some patients, and rapid treatment would be preferable. However, there have been relatively few studies conducted regarding the rapid treatment of akathisia. The effect of intravenous diazepam at the beginning of treatment for akathisia was studied in an open clinical trial.

Method: The subjects were 18 patients with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder (DSM-IV criteria) who developed neuroleptic-induced acute akathisia during antipsychotic medication and who required immediate relief from the distress of akathisia. Diazepam was given intravenously to the patients at a rate of 5 mg per 30 seconds.

Results: All 18 subjects experienced immediate relief from akathisia after the injection of diazepam (mean±SD dose=12.6±2.6 mg; range, 10-17 mg). They reported no serious adverse effects.

Conclusion: The results suggest that intravenous diazepam could be used in the treatment of patients with severely distressing akathisia who require immediate relief.