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Long-Term Considerations After Switching Antipsychotics

Peter J. Weiden, M.D.; Ralph Aquila, M.D.; Marianne Emanuel, R.N.; and Annette Zygmunt, M.S.

Published: July 1, 1998

Article Abstract

The so-called "atypical" antipsychotics are rapidly becoming the de facto standard pharmacologictreatment of schizophrenia. This article reviews some common psychopharmacologic and psychologicalissues 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 ofresponse to the new medication, dealing with subsequent psychological reactions, and management ofan unsatisfactory response. Once the response is established, there are other pharmacologic and psychologicalissues that arise during the next year or two. Pharmacologic issues that emerge later oninclude the role of long-term combination antipsychotics, management of new side effects, and decidingwhether and when to switch again. Some of the long-term psychological issues include changes inself-image that arise from being less visibly ill, sexuality and intimacy concerns, and recovery issues.

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Volume: 59

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