What warnings should be given prior to treatment with antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia?

Updated: Mar 16, 2018
  • Author: Frances R Frankenburg, MD; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Before beginning antipsychotic medications, clinicians should warn patients and their families of adverse effects, and the slowness of response. The patient may be calmer and less agitated almost immediately, but alleviation of the psychosis itself often takes several weeks. Some clinicians routinely perform electrocardiography (ECG) before beginning treatment with antipsychotic medications and then as often as seems appropriate, for example if doses are increased or agents change. Because suicide is not uncommon in patients with psychotic illnesses, clinicians should write prescriptions for the lowest dosage that is consistent with good clinical care. Patients should be urged to avoid substance abuse. All medications should be given at lower dosages in children and elderly patients and used with great caution in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

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