Atypical Antipsychotic Use in the Treatment of Psychosis in Primary Care

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Atypical antipsychotics are a class of novel agents increasingly employed for the treatment of psychotic disorders. The pharmacodynamic properties of the atypicals appear to impact a broader spectrum of psychotic symptoms than had been appreciated with older generation antipsychotics. In addition, the atypical agents appear to have a reduced risk of neurologic side effects compared with conventional antipsychotic use. Both of these features enhance the appeal of the atypical antipsychotics and may be associated with enhanced patient compliance. The atypical antipsychotics appear to be effective for schizophrenia as well as other psychotic disorders, including schizoaffective disorder and mood disorders with psychotic features. Consequently, atypical antipsychotics are now considered to be the first-line treatment for schizophrenia, with the exception of clozapine, which is considered a second-line agent because of risks associated with its use. This review will discuss the literature on atypical antipsychotic efficacy in psychotic disorders. Issues related to antipsychotic use, dosing, adverse effects, and drug interactions are also discussed.

Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2000;2(6):194-204