285 Psychosis. A Lifetime of Antipsychotics?

Based on research done by Harrow, Martin, Jobe, Thomas H., & Faull, Robert N., (2012) written by Bethany Wellman, M.S.

Standard treatment for psychoses (where thoughts and emotions are impaired, with delusions and/or hallucinations) is anti-psychotic medication, often prescribed for life. Some takers either believe they no longer need or have unwanted side effects, thus stop using them. Are antipsychotics needed lifelong??

Psychologists at U of Illinois College of Medicine evaluated 140 patients with psychosis, some with mood disorder, others with Schizophrenia. Over 20 years, researchers assessed symptomology, level of functioning, and recovery at a critical phase and six other stages of their illness.

Results showed that at 2-years, 35% patients did not take antipsychotic medications and had no significant differences from those still medicated. Patients off antipsychotics at 4.5-years had less psychosis than those on antipsychotics, and higher indications of recovery (i.e., no hospitalizations, less symptoms). The majority of patients on antipsychotic meds relapsed during the 20 years, but only 11% not taking them.

Some with psychosis were able to stay off antipsychotics and still maintain well-being.   Not all diagnosed with schizophrenia and psychotic mood disorders need antipsychotic medications for life, particularly with effective psychotherapy, family support, and resources at their disposal. More research is needed.


Harrow, M., Jobe, T. H., & Faull, R. N. (2012). Do all schizophrenia patients need antipsychotic treatment continuously throughout their lifetime? A 20-year longitudinal study. Psychological Medicine, 2145-2155. doi:10.1017/S0033291712000220

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