The Brain on Antipsychotic Drugs: What Happens?
(August 18, 2014) Antipsychotics like clozapine and mood stabilizers like lithium are a part of recovery for people with severe mental illness, and they also cut violent crime, according to a study published in the Lancet (“Antipsychotics cut violent crime, study finds.” May 8).
Antipsychotic drugs are an important part of the picture in most people’s journey to recovery from serious mental illness. They are also a complex piece of an approach to address the biology of these illnesses. The Treatment Advocacy Center’s backgrounder, "Do antipsychotic drugs change brain structure? ” updated in April 2014, demystifies the way these drugs act on the brain.
As the backgrounder explains, “changes in brain structure are caused both by the disease process of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and by the antipsychotic drugs used to treat these diseases.” Moreover, that these drugs produce changes to the structure of the brain should not surprise anyone. The backgrounder describes the following structural brain changes the drugs cause:
It is important to apply an informed perspective to understanding treatment for serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. One area of controversy remains the safety and impact of antipsychotic drugs – and with justification. However, not all criticisms are created equally, and as we know, antipsychotic drugs both require careful monitoring by physicians and have the potential to help change lives for the better for those experiencing psychosis.
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