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Switching Antipsychotics as a Treatment Strategy for Antipsychotic-Induced Weight Gain and Dyslipidemia

Peter J. Weiden, M.D.

Published: April 16, 2007

Article Abstract

Patients taking antipsychotic medications for psychiatric disorders also have many risk factors for medical comorbidities and early death. While these risk factors were present before the arrival of the newer antipsychotic medications, the overall risk factor burden is exacerbated for those high-risk patients whose antipsychotic therapy causes or aggravates obesity or dyslipidemia. Therefore, there is an urgent need for effective interventions to address problems related to the additional iatrogenic burden from weight gain and dyslipidemias caused by antipsychotic medications. For patients with schizophrenia, complete discontinuation of antipsychotic therapy is not advisable and, therefore, pharmacologic options are narrowed to dose adjustments, adding adjunctive agents to induce weight loss, discontinuation of other adjunctive agents associated with weight gain, or changing the antipsychotic medication (“switching”). This article reviews the evidence showing that relative to other possible treatment options, switching to an antipsychotic with a lower propensity to induce weight gain or dyslipidemia can be effective for reversing the weight gain and dyslipidemia caused by previous antipsychotic treatment.

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