A long-term study has found that low cumulative exposure to benzodiazepine and antidepressant medications does not seem to affect cognition in schizophrenia. However, long-term high-dose use of antipsychotic drugs seemed to be associated with poorer cognition, whereas a relatively long break in antipsychotic use was associated with better cognitive functioning. This work, the first to follow lifetime exposure to benzodiazepines and antidepressant in schizophrenia, is presented at the ECNP conference in Paris, and it is also published in the peer-reviewed journal European Psychiatry.
Schizophrenia affects around 0.3-0.7% of people at some point in their life, or 21 million people worldwide. It is most often a lifelong disorder, requiring long-term treatment and rehabilitation and long-term use of antipsychotic medication. However, drug trials are usually of short duration, for example antipsychotic trials last up to 2-3 years. As many medicines are used over long periods and may be linked with significant side-effects, it is important to be able to follow these effects in the long-term.