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The Continuing Problem of Extrapyramidal Symptoms: Strategies for Avoidance and Effective Treatment

Jes Gerlach, MD

Published: August 1, 1999

Article Abstract

Antipsychotic agents remain the most effective treatment for both acute and chronic schizophrenia. However, conventional antipsychotic agents are frequently associated with significant side effects including, perhaps most notably, extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS). The emergence of EPS can significantly compromise patient compliance with treatment and can have profound effects on long-term treatment outcomes. Providing effective symptom relief with minimal side effects and without inducing EPS is, therefore, a primary goal in the treatment of schizophrenia. Atypical antipsychotic agents are now regarded as first-line therapies for the treatment of schizophrenia because of their lower propensity to induce EPS compared with conventional antipsychotics, and evidence exists that these agents are associated with a lower relapse rate, which perhaps reflects an improvement in patient compliance.

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