Biological therapies for schizophrenia: drug therapies


Drug therapies

  • The most common treatment for schz involves the use of antipsychotic drugs
  • Can be taken in form of tablets or syrups, some are available as injections evry 2-4 weeks
  • Antipsychotics may be required in the short or long term

Typical antipsychotics

  • Been around since 1950s, include Chlorpromazine
  • If taken orally it is administered daily up to a maximum of 1000mg
  • Dosage is usually gradually increased to a maximum of 400-800mg
  • Strong association between the use of typical antipsychotics and the dopamine hypothesis
  • Typical antipsychotics work by acting as antagonists in the dopamine system
  • Antagonists are chemicals which reduce the action of a neurotransmitter
  • Dopamine antagonists work by blocking dopamine receptors in the synapses of the brain, reducing the action of dopamine
  • Initially when a patient starts taking chlorpromazine, dopamine levels build up, but then its production is reduced
  • This dopamine-antagonist effect normalises neurotransmission in key areas of the brain, reducing symptoms like hallucinations
  • Chlorpromazine also an effective sedative as it has an effect on the histamine receptors

Atypical antipsychotics

  • Used since 1970s
  • Developed to minimise the side effects on typical antipsychotics
  • Clozapine developed in the 1960s
  • Withdrawn after it caused the death of some patients as a result of agranulocytosis
  • Last resource as it is most effective but serious side effects
  • Have to take regular blood tests with it
  • 300-450mg dosage per day
  • Clozapine binds to dopamine receptors as well as serotonin and glutamate receptors
  • This action helps to improve…


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