Reasoning about the optimal duration of prophylactic antipsychotic medication in schizophrenia: evidence and arguments

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
L J Bosveld-van HaandelR J van den Bosch


To review evidence-based literature regarding the necessary duration of antipsychotic relapse prevention in schizophrenia and related psychoses. A computerized search was performed on Medline, Embase Psychiatry and PsycLIT which covered the period 1974-99. We also used cross-references. Although schizophrenia refers mainly to an intrinsic biological vulnerability, only maintenance studies with a follow-up of 2 years at most are available. Relapses appear unpredictable and occur even after long-term successful remission during antipsychotic treatment. Since rehabilitation efforts have effects only after long-term endeavours, antipsychotic relapse prevention should be maintained for long periods. It is reasonable to treat patients suffering from schizophrenia and related psychoses for longer periods than indicated by the current guidelines.


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