Schizophrenia is not a taboo topic anymore. Some aspects of the illness, like hearing voices and delusions (‘positive symptoms’), are increasingly spoken and written about by laypeople. But ‘negative symptoms’ (lack of thought content, motivation, meaningful pleasure and sociability) and the predisposition for people with schizophrenia to get depressed, are still commonly under-appreciated.
Both these domains are often treated by adding an antidepressant to an already-prescribed antipsychotic, but the evidence for this isn’t as comprehensive as we’d like. There have been multiple small studies, but there is little consensus and some subsidiary questions (like whether antidepressants might worsen positive symptoms) remain unanswered. Fortunately for us, a team based in Munich have recently published a systematic review and meta-analysis in the American Journal of Psychiatry, to pull together all of the data in this broad area (Helfer et al, 2016).
This major new review examined the safety and efficacy of antidepressants added to antipsychotic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia.