Uses of Psychotropic Drugs in the Treatment of Schizophrenia

Subject: Psychiatry
Pages: 13
Words: 5518
Reading time:
21 min
Study level: PhD


Psychotropic drugs which are also known as psychoactive drugs are used to control the functions of the central nervous system where the medication affects the functions of the brain changing the mood, perceptions and cognitive behavior of an individual. Psychotropic drugs are used for either recreational or medicinal purposes where in the case of recreational purposes they are used for spiritual or ritual activities, yoga exercises, mind exercises and for augmenting the mind. The medicinal use of psychotropic drugs is for therapeutic purposes where patients with high stress levels are given the drugs for stress relief purposes (Merlin, 2003).

Since most psychotropic drugs are designed to change the consciousness of a person to a pleasant and advantageous mood, these forms of medication are the most commonly abused types of drugs despite. This is because they contain the same chemicals that exist in commonly abused drugs such as Marijuana, Heroin and Cocaine. Ethical considerations therefore need to be considered when prescribing the drugs to schizophrenic patients to ensure that they are consumed according to the set out treatment plan. As will be discussed later on in the research paper, psychotropic drugs can be used to treat people suffering from schizophrenia, a mental disorder that makes it difficult for the sufferer to differentiate between the realistic and unrealistic world. This disease also makes it difficult for the sufferers to evoke any normal responses to social and real world situations (Freudenreich et al 2008).

The causes of schizophrenia according to medical researchers are still unknown given the complexity of the disease. Some medical researchers have attributed the causes of schizophrenia to be from environmental agents such as infections in the mother’s womb, traumatic psychological experiences and genetic material that have remnants of schizophrenia. The disorder affects 1% of the world’s population and it occurs in both male and females but the male population continues to record the highest number of sufferers since it occurs at a later stage in women. Schizophrenia also occurs during the young adulthood years of a human being and it can also affect children five years and above (Freudenreich et al 2008).

In detail, this study will explore the use of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia by analyzing the major categories of psychotropic drugs and by pointing out which method of psychotropic treatment is majorly used to treat schizophrenia. In this regard, we will analyze historical and present forms of medications plus the developments in psychotropic drugs and their use in treating schizophrenic patients. In this manner, this study will comprehensively explore the evolution of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia while focusing on the core areas of treatment and the side effects (or perceptions) associated with each type of treatment. Furthermore, this study will point out the arguments for and against certain forms of psychotropic treatment and propose various types of alternative treatment based on the reaction of patients to specific psychotropic medications.

Goals and Objectives of the Study

As with any other form of research work, this study will include goals and objectives that will be used to provide a foundation and framework for the various arguments and discussion within the research paper. Goals and objectives in research work are important as they provide a sense of direction to the study. The goals and objectives of this study will therefore be:

  • To determine the uses of psychotropic drugs in treating schizophrenia which is the main purpose of conducting this study.
  • To determine the various types of psychotropic treatments used in the treatment of schizophrenic patients.
  • To establish issues, controversies and new grounds of research associated with the use of psychotropic drugs to treat schizophrenic patients

Part of the issues to be identified in this study incorporates dosages, institutionalization and patient reaction as the major bases for the evolution of psychotropic drug medications. This and other issues identified in this study are treated as important areas of research in psychotropic drug development and may be used to best comprehend the appropriateness of specific types of drugs and the controversies surrounding them. For personal reasons, I will undertake this study with the aim of giving an unbiased insight into the issues and controversies associated with psychotropic drug use in the treatment of schizophrenic patients. Comprehensively, this study will seek to demystify issues and controversies associated with the use of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia.

Types of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects the mental actions of an individual making it difficult for them to react in a normal way to real situations. People that suffer from schizophrenia have an altered view of their surroundings and a different perception of reality where they hear or see things that do not exist. There are three major types of schizophrenia that exist today as discovered by medical researchers and these include catatonic schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia and disorganized schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia is referred to as the type of schizophrenic disorder that causes the sufferer to experience absurd occurrences and have paranoid ideas. These ideas are usually focused on a coherent or organized theme that is relevant to the patient and that has remained consistent for certain durations of time. The most common symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia include delusions and hallucinations where the sufferer assumes that he/she is being persecuted for their actions. People that suffer from paranoid schizophrenia have difficulty establishing meaningful relationships and they tend to function better on their own rather that within a social group or society (Beck et al, 2009).

Disorganized schizophrenia, which is another subtype of schizophrenia, occurs during the early stages of a person’s development. The onset of this type of disorder is usually gradual in nature where the individual develops the symptoms of the disease based on their stages of development. The most distinguishing characteristic of this type of schizophrenia is the disorganized speech and behavior demonstrated by the individual where they are unable to demonstrate any coherent speech and participate in social interactions. Because of their general lack of organization, people that suffer from this type of disorder are unable to properly take care of themselves which basically means that they have poor personal hygiene (Smith, 2010).

Other symptoms that can be used to determine whether a person is suffering from disorganized schizophrenia include impaired communication skills where the individual talks like a child, emotional indifference, incomprehensible or illogical speech and also peculiar reactions/facial expressions to certain social situations. People that have disorganized schizophrenia also suffer from acute hallucinations and delusions that are not necessarily based on a consistent theme such as is the case with paranoid schizophrenia. Catatonic schizophrenia is mostly characterized by a disturbance of movements where the sufferer experiences a decrease of psychomotor activities which makes it difficult for them to coordinate their body movements properly. This is referred to as a stuporous state which reflects a decrease of activity in body movement and speech in the individual. The schizophrenic patient might also be resistant to any changes in their body position where they might hold a particular body position for a long duration of time. People suffering from catatonic schizophrenia also experience an increase in their motor activity as a result of increased neural network functions. These symptoms are also accompanied by signs of extreme excitement where they revert from a state of stupor to a state of frenzied excitement (Beck et al, 2009).

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia has a variety of symptoms which develop over a long period of time which could either be years or months. The frequency of these symptoms is usually determined by how long the person has suffered from the disorder meaning that they are likely to have few or many symptoms of the disease. The most common symptoms of schizophrenia include trouble sleeping properly, poor or low levels of concentration, feelings of isolation and withdrawal in the patient and social interaction problems that might affect the way an individual relates with other people. These symptoms usually occur at the onset of the disease and as it progresses the symptoms become more psychotic and acute. Other symptoms include lack of feelings and emotions, a general detachment to the sufferer’s surroundings, catatonic behavior which is demonstrated by bizarre movements by the patient and delusions or hallucinations (Weinberger & Harrison, 2011).

The early warning symptoms of the disease include social withdrawal, a growing sense of depression, the inability to express any form of emotion, a deterioration of personal hygiene and the increase of insomniac episodes where at times the individual lacks any sleep, forgetfulness and the inability to concentrate with their environment and work. While the above mentioned signs might be a result of various problems or illnesses, they are a major cause of concern especially if the symptoms are causing deterioration in the individuals well being (Weinberger & Harrison, 2011).

Hallucinations are the most common symptoms of a schizophrenic patient who has advanced to a more acute stage of the disease. Sufferers tend to hallucinate and form delusions which might at times be confused to be dementia. Other symptoms of schizophrenia include feelings of paranoia and anxiety where schizophrenic patients become easily agitated and argumentative at the slightest provocation. These feelings of paranoia usually stem from the idea that someone is trying to harm them or their loved ones which increases their levels of anxiety. Schizophrenic patients also suffer from a general feeling of disorganization where they are unable to organize their thoughts and ideas in a normal way (Weinberger & Harrison, 2011).

Another symptom is catatonic behavior where the patient is very restless at one point and very rigid or quiet in another. They also suffer from odd facial expressions which makes it difficult for them to be responsive to their surrounding environment. As there are no medical tests which can be used to determine the existence of schizophrenia in an individual, psychiatrists and physicians usually perform an evaluation of various symptoms to determine whether the individual suffers from the disease. The most commonly used method of evaluation is by conducting an interview of the sufferer and their immediate family members. This is done to ascertain whether the family has a history of schizophrenia and what treatments have been used to treat the sufferer of the disease (Mahoney, 2010).

Other aspects or factors that can be used to diagnose whether an individual is suffering from schizophrenia include determining the course of the illness where the psychiatrist determines how long the sufferer has had the symptoms, detecting any changes of the body’s functions before and after the patient acquired the illness and the response of the patient to medication and drugs. CT scans as well as scanning technology have also been used to detect whether an individual suffers from schizophrenia. These scans usually focus on the central nervous system of the individual and also their peripheral network to determine the existence of the disorder (Mahoney, 2010).

Effects of Schizophrenia

In the event the symptoms of schizophrenia are not treated or properly diagnosed, the disease is more than likely to lead to certain effects which might be devastating to the health of the individual. The most common effects of schizophrenia include poor social interactions and relationship problems that affect the interaction of the individual with their family members and colleagues. Their inability to have any meaningful conversations with other people often makes it difficult for schizophrenic patients to maintain social interactions which force them to withdraw and isolate themselves from other people. This is termed to be the biggest effect of schizophrenic patients especially if they had a very communicative and outgoing personality.

Paranoia and hallucinations can also cause the schizophrenic patient to be suspicious of other people such as their family members and friends as well as people who exist in their surroundings (Beck et al, 2010). Another effect of schizophrenia is that it disrupts the normal routine of the individual making it difficult for them to engage in social activities and duties. Conducting everyday tasks such as bathing and dressing becomes difficult as the schizophrenic patient continues to experience hallucinations and delusions as well as disorganized thoughts. Alcohol and drug abuse are other common effects of schizophrenia where many schizophrenia patients abuse alcoholic substances to reduce the devastating symptoms of the disorder.

Substance abuse affects the ability of the medication or drugs to effectively deal with the symptoms of the disease. Drug abuse in schizophrenic patients is also a common occurrence as it helps to reduce the various emotional and psychological feelings that engulf people suffering from schizophrenia. Schizophrenic patients also have an increased likelihood of committing suicide because of the various emotions that they experience. The risk is usually high when the patients experience psychotic episodes or periods of hallucinations and delusions which are mostly focused on death (Luscher, 2006).

Schizophrenia also affects the brain of the person suffering from the disorder where they have structural differences in their ventricle areas. Some patients might have enlarged ventricles while others might have smaller ventricles which lead to frontal lobe abnormalities. These abnormalities affect the memory of the patient making it difficult for them to remember certain events or facts about their life. Forgetfulness, which is one symptom of schizophrenia, is mostly affected by the abnormal activity in the brain. Brain abnormalities also lead to poor communication skills and speech where most schizophrenic patients communicate by making babbling sounds or through infantile sounds (Torrey, 2006).

Uses of Psychotropic Drugs in the Treatment of Schizophrenia

Psychotropic drugs initiate a change in the behavior and perception of an individual that is suffering from a mental and psychological disorder such as schizophrenia. The uses of psychotropic drugs have been divided into four categories and types of medications which can be able to produce more than one type of effect in the patient. These four categories include hallucinogens, stimulants, antipsychotics and depressants (Ito et al, 1999). As defined in the introductory part of this discussion, schizophrenia is a mental condition known to affect the cognitive development of people suffering from the disorder. Antipsychotic medications which are commonly used in treating schizophrenia are psychotropic drugs used to reduce the mental illnesses of patients and people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia (Beck et al, 2009).

The introduction of antipsychotic drugs in the 1950s as a means of treating schizophrenia saw a general advancement in treating mental disorders and conditions. The first generation antipsychotic drugs were however partial in treating the disease which spurred medical clinicians to develop strategies that would see the improvement of the drugs into psychotropic medications. Such strategies involved combining the antipsychotic medication with antidepressants or sedatives so as to reduce the patient’s behavior from a stupor to a normal state. These combinations were able to effectively reduce the major symptoms of schizophrenia which included hallucinations, delusions and paranoia (Chakos et al, 2006).

While these types of medication effectively reduce psychotic symptoms, they do not cure schizophrenia in individuals which means that the psychotic episodes might re-emerge as the person advances in age or the disease progresses to a more advanced and acute stage. People who recover from psychotic episodes are more than likely to experience a relapse which is an occurrence that has so far been unexplained by medical researchers and scientists. However, the relapse rates become higher when the patient or sufferer of the disorder discontinues their drug intake. Discontinuation of antipsychotic treatments is highly probable given that the drugs are taken in high dosages and they have devastating side effects on the health of the patient (Beck et al, 2009).

Examples of antipsychotic drugs include clorazil/clorazine (the strongest of all the antipsychotic drugs), risperidone or rispediron, abilify and zyprexa. The latter three drugs have fewer side effects when compared to clorazil which when taken in high and frequent doses, might lead to the patient losing white blood cells in their body, a condition which is known as agranulocytosis. However the three drugs (risperdal, zyprexa and abilify) have a low effectiveness in treating patients that suffer from schizophrenia (Beck et al, 2009). Risperidone is however the most commonly prescribed psychotropic drug according to studies conducted in the UK of patients suffering from schizophrenia and intellectual disabilities. The evidence of the study showed that the antipsychotic drugs were effective when controlling the behavioral disturbances experienced by people suffering from schizophrenia (Macdonald et al, 2002).

Apart from antipsychotic medications, stimulants have also been used to treat patients suffering from schizophrenia. Their use is however different from that of antipsychotic drugs as they are mostly designed to stimulate the mind of the patient and also elicit some emotional response. Stimulants are used to stimulate the mind of the patient to be more aware and responsive to their environment and also reduce their docileness and inattentiveness to their environment. Doctors administer stimulant medication to schizophrenic patients who suffer from stupors or states of docility. The most commonly used psychoactive stimulants include tea, coffee, marijuana and cacao (Nevid, 2009).

Depressant psychoactive drugs are those that are used in calming down the schizophrenic patients by inducing sleep and reducing the levels of anxiety. Depressants are mostly useful in treating patients that suffer from catatonic schizophrenia especially during their state of excitement or frenzy. The most commonly used psychoactive depressants include opioids and valerian. Hallucinogens are drugs that are used to produce distinct changes to a person’s perceptions and emotional state. They also reduce the number of hallucinations and delusions that a schizophrenic patient has. The most commonly used hallucinogen drugs include Mescaline, Salvia Divinorum and Psilocybin (Nevid, 2009).

Psychotropic drugs such as the antipsychotic medications have been used to treat schizophrenia through their effects on the central nervous system. These types of medication are used to treat severely debilitating disorders that affect the mental and psychological health of a human being such as schizophrenia. Psychotropic drugs incorporate various agents to treat psychosis in human beings by reducing their levels of paranoia and delusion (Bloom & Smith, 2001). While many clinicians and medical researchers have noted that psychotropic drugs do not completely treat schizophrenia, they reduce the levels of paranoia and hallucination that a patient suffers from adversely

Sometimes, psychotropic drugs are used to manage the condition by creating a sense of normalcy on patients’ behavior when schizophrenia cannot be totally eliminated (Preston, 2009, p. 5). Psychotropic drugs are therefore used to positively affect the mind, emotions, and the general behavior of patients suffering from schizophrenia. Psychotropic drugs may however range from illegal drugs such as cocaine to legal drugs such as lithium (used to treat patients suffering from severe depression disorders (Schatzberg, 2010).

Despite the limited literature available to explain whether psychotropic agents can be used in treating schizophrenia, the disorder is an exclusionary criterion for most medical trials where clinicians have determined that the use of these agents in treating the disorder is determined by the advanced stage of the disorder. This means that the pharmacological treatment of depression should be done through the use of an antidepressant and the treatment of psychosis should be done by using antipsychotic medication (Dulcan, 2010).

There are numerous arguments regarding the use of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia but in clinical circles, psychotropic drugs have been observed to have positive and negative effects when treating schizophrenia. The debate involving the use of psychotropic drugs is rather controversial and not clearly understood by many researchers, especially because the use of psychotropic drugs has changed over the decades. For this reason, this study seeks to explore the historic and present use of psychotropic drugs and in this quest; we will dissect the historical and current use of psychotropic drugs across time.

Literature Review

For decades on end, psychotropic drugs have been used to treat schizophrenia because they affect the central nervous system which ultimately calms down the destabilized emotional status of schizophrenic patients. From a broad analysis, psychotropic drugs have been broadly categorized into four main categories of hallucinogens, antipsychotics, depressants and stimulants, although antipsychotic drugs have been the major form of drug used to treat schizophrenia today (Preston, 2009).Historically, psychotropic drugs were used in medical circles to control the symptoms of schizophrenia, reduce the pain associated with the condition, and reduce nausea while increasing a patients’ appetite for food. In other words, psychotropic drugs were majorly used to suppress the adverse effects of the condition.

Historically, large dosages of psychotropic drugs were used to suppress dopamine activity but currently smaller dosages are administered (McGurk, 2007, p. 435). Also, in the past, the administration of psychotropic drugs was almost entirely coupled by institutionalization of schizophrenic patients (especially when there was a likelihood of self injury) but since 1950s, hospital institutionalization has reduced (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). The most common type of historical psychotropic drugs used was marijuana which was medicinally used on patients suffering from AIDS and cancer. Alcohol also falls among the category of historical depressants under psychotropic drugs because it has the ability of improving the mood of schizophrenic patients, cause elation and reduce intense suffering caused by schizophrenia (Ananth, 2004, p. 464).

However, psychotropic drugs have been observed to have significant side effects on patients and this has also been observed to be an important field of study in psychiatry. Antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft have been widely used in the past to reduce depression and anxiety among schizophrenic patients but prolonged use was noted to cause anxiety because the drugs are stimulants in nature (Ananth, 2004, p. 465). Mood stabilizers and tranquilizers were therefore historically administered (instead) since they were perceived to be more effective than other types of psychotropic drugs (although they fall into the same category of depressants). These drugs were basically used to control various types of neurological disorders (especially for bipolar patients).

Today, antipsychotic drugs have been primarily undertaken as the basic method of treating schizophrenia although they were historically used in seclusion as the baseline treatment method for schizophrenic patients. Currently, the treatment method is often combined with other psychological and social support services for patients (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). Antipsychotic treatment is normally administered as the first course of treatment because it has the potential of reducing the adverse effects of schizophrenia manifested by psychosis within a matter of a week or two.

However, since schizophrenia manifests in adverse forms of cognitive impairment, antipsychotic drugs often fail to mitigate these effects and equally fail to minimize the negative effects of its use (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). There are a number of antipsychotic drugs to use but the choice of drugs to administer is usually based on a number of key parameters such as costs, benefits and effects of the drugs. The choice of drugs to use often falls between typical and atypical antipsychotic drugs but both have been observed to have the same level of relapse and dropout rates when administered to patients for a given period of time (Schultz, 2007, p. 1821).

Studies done to show the effectiveness of this course of treatment have often registered success rates of between 40% -50% (Smith, 2010, p. 338). In terms of partial responsiveness, the same studies have shown that antipsychotic drugs register successive rates of between 30% – 40% (Smith, 2010, p. 338). Other studies have noted that antipsychotic treatment may potentially fail to register the desired results after approximately six weeks of administration in less than 20% of schizophrenic patients (Smith, 2010, p. 338). In such circumstances, it has been established that clozapine treatment which is a new type of antipsychotic drug treatment, may be a good remedy for patients resistant to antipsychotic drugs (McGurk, 2007, p. 435). However, this course of treatment has serious side effects in terms of agrunolocytosis (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). Approximately 1% – 4% of patients who’ve received this treatment method suffer such side effects (Smith, 2010, p. 338).

The different types of antipsychotic drugs administered to patients suffering from schizophrenia have been noted to register different side effects. Typical antipsychotic drugs have been observed to cause extrapyramidal side effects but atypical antipsychotic drugs lead to increased chances of weight gain, increased likelihood of patients suffering from diabetes and ultimately affecting the metabolic activity of the body (Kane, 2010, p. 345). Atypical psychotic drugs are commonly known as the second generation types of drugs developed in the 1990s and apart from clozapine, it includes other drugs such as risperidone, olanzapine, ziprasidone among others (McGurk, 2007, p. 434).

Their effects have been observed to be modest among most patients but researchers have easily pointed out that atypical antipsychotic drugs are better than typical drugs because they cause fewer extra pyramidal effects (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). However, in the same category of atypical antidepressants, there is an increased likelihood of death when atypical antipsychotic drugs such as quetiapione and risperidone are used; although other atypical drugs such as perphernazine pose less danger when analyzed on the same parameters (Chwastiak, 2009, p. 590). Clozapine has however been identified to pose the lowest risk of death to the patients.

New studies and points of view on the use of antipsychotic drugs have however failed to show a clear relation between patient healing and the likelihood of patients developing other neurological problems such as the neuroleptic malignant syndrome (Ananth, 2004, p. 464). Depot preparations of antipsychotics have therefore been recommended for patients unwilling or unable to take drugs for long periods (although its effectiveness has often been identified to improve when it is combined with certain psychosocial interventions) (McEvoy, 2006, p. 15). Such psychosocial interventions may involve cognitive behavioral therapy and such like interventions (Wykes, 2008).

However, in cases where patients may have less tolerance for certain types of psychotropic drugs, new studies show that aripiprazole should be used because patients are more tolerant to it (especially when treating bipolar disorder and schizophrenia) (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). In fact, the drug has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as appropriate for the treatment of schizophrenia (McGurk, 2007, p. 434). Its uniqueness comes about because it can treat acute manic and mixed episodes of schizophrenia, an attribute which was discovered as late as November 2002 by some Japanese and American scientists.

Prevalence of the Use of Psychotropic Medications

Various reports and studies conducted on the prevalence rate of psychotropic medication in people suffering from schizophrenia have shown that one-third of the world population is using at least one psychotropic drug in dealing with this disorder. According to Dulcan (2010) psycho stimulants, antidepressants and antipsychotics were the most commonly used psychotropic drugs that were used to treat schizophrenia and other intellectual disabilities. According to US statistics, the use of psychotropic medications and antipsychotic drugs in the country have increased over recent years where 50 percent of schizophrenic patients use psychotropic medications to limit the symptoms of the disorder.

In the UK, the prevalence rate of psychotropic medication was mostly high in nursing homes and special care facilities that treated patients with schizophrenia. Macdonald et al (2002) in their study noted that the prevalence rate of psychotropic medication in these nursing homes was 50 percent. These drugs were used to treat dementia, paranoia and depression among the various patients in the nursing home. Their study was focused on nursing homes that were in the South Eastern parts of England. According to their study, the number of residents in these nursing homes who were taking antidepressant medication was 25 percent while those who were under antipsychotic medication were 15 percent. This demonstrated that these types of psychotropic medications were effective in reducing the rates of dementia in patients within these nursing homes. The most commonly used antipsychotic medications included thioridazine, risperidone, and trifluoperazine (Macdonald et al, 2002).

Around the world, 90 percent of schizophrenic patients use psychotropic medications as more and more people become exposed to the disorder. A study conducted by Chakos et al (2006) on the prevalence rates of psychotropic medications revealed that 31 percent of patients were on antidepressant medication, while 18 percent were on anxiolytic medication that was meant to reduce their paranoid behavior. 16 percent of the patients included in the study were under sedative-hypnotic medication while 15 percent were taking anticholinergic medication that was combined with antipsychotic treatments (Buchanan et al, 2002).

Other studies showed that the prevalence rate of psychotropic drugs such as mood stabilizers was relatively low where only 3 percent of schizophrenic patients were under lithium and 12 percent were under mood stabilizing medication. This demonstrated that these second generation medications were had a lower efficacy of treating schizophrenia in patients that were suffering from the disease. Chakos et al (2006) noted that the efficacy of antidepressant treatments among patients suffering from schizophrenia was an issue of discussion for most medical researchers and clinicians as most studies had not focused on this aspect.

The reason attributed to this was because the depressive symptoms of the disorder make it difficult for them to adhere to their treatment regimes leading to a general feeling of demoralization. Chakos et al (2006) noted that 60 percent of patients suffering from schizophrenia had an episode of major depression during the various stages of the illness. Depression has mostly been associated with an increased risk of relapsing, suicide and poor social interactions with other people in the society and it therefore impacts the adherence of the patient to their medication (Magliano et al, 2004).

Side Effects of Psychotropic Drugs

As with any other type of medication, psychotropic medication has various side effects that might impact on the health of the schizophrenic patient if taken for a considerable amount of time. The side effects of psychotropic drugs are usually caused by the impact that these medications have on the various neurotransmitter networks and organs in the patient’s body. One common side effect of psychotropic medication is drowsiness and tolerance where the body has a reduced responsiveness to drugs because psychotropic drugs affect the receptive sensors of the brain (Beck et al, 2009).

Psychotropic medications also cause some confusion in the patient where they are unable to organize their activities and thoughts properly. This is mostly attributed to the impact of the medication on the schizophrenic patient’s neurotransmitter network. These drugs also cause impaired metabolism as a result of pharmacotherapy activities that are provided together with the treatment plans. Pharmacotherapy in schizophrenic patients affects their appetite for food, which means that many patients on psychotropic medication are more than likely to have a poor consumption of food (Beck et al, 2009).

Other side effects that occur in patients taking psychoactive medication include heavy sedation in patients who are under hallucinogenic medication and anti-stimulant drugs. Schizophrenic patients are also easily agitated and angry if they have been taking psychotropic medication for a subsequent period of time. Psychotropic drugs such as benzodiazepines, sedatives and antidepressants have also been associated with hip fractures and dislocations especially in elderly patients as they increase the risk of bone fractures in the body. Another side effect of psychotropic drugs is rigidity or body twitching where the patient experiences muscle spasms and twitches. Patients who are under stimulant medication are more than likely to experience restlessness as their brain activity has increased considerably. Another side effect of psychotropic drugs is dizziness and light headedness especially when the patient is standing or walking.

The side effects of risperidone drugs include nausea, drowsiness, sexual dysfunction and increased restlessness while the side effects of clozapine include increased heart beats and saliva as well as constipation. Clozapine also causes a blood disorder known as agranulocytosis which causes a deficiency of white blood cells within the body. Other conditions that have been associated with the use of clozapine as a treatment for schizophrenic disorders include myocarditis and cardiomyopathy where the patient suffers from chest pain and shortness of breath especially when the exert themselves in a minimal way (Beck et al, 2009).

The side effects of antidepressants include overstimulation of the brain’s neural network which increases hyperactivity in the patient, blurred vision where patients are unable to decipher objects that are 50 yards away from them and insomnia where schizophrenic patients are unable to sleep properly. Antidepressants that have been taken for a long time cause liver damage and kidney failure in the patient. To reduce any side effects of the drugs, psychoactive drugs should be used in low doses to minimize devastating side effects and also increase the effectiveness of the medication in treating patients suffering from schizophrenia (Freudenreich et al, 2008).


The purpose of this study has been to determine the uses of psychotropic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia. The discussion assessed the various symptoms and effects of schizophrenia as well as the signs and procedures used to diagnose a person suffering from schizophrenia. The study focused on the uses of psychotropic drugs in treating patients with schizophrenia where the various categories of psychoactive drugs were outlined as well as their use in treating schizophrenic patients. The findings of the research paper demonstrated that the prevalence of using psychotropic medications in treating schizophrenia were high despite the general lack of efficacy measures to determine whether the drugs were suitable pharmacologic interventions.


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