Antipsychotic medications are the most common treatment for individuals with schizophrenia, helping to relieve some of the debilitating symptoms caused by the disorder. But according to a new study, long-term use of these drugs may also negatively impact brain structure.
New research has discovered that long-term use of antipsychotic medications by people with schizophrenia has negative effects on the structure of the brain.
“The role played by antipsychotic treatment on the pathophysiologic trajectory of brain abnormalities in schizophrenia is currently a matter of lively debate,” said Dr. Antonio Vita, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Brescia in Italy, and director of the psychiatric unit at Spedali Civili Hospital.
What is clear, he says, is that research collected from cross-sectional and longitudinal magnetic resonance imaging studies shows that patients with schizophrenia show progressive structural brain abnormalities. The findings indicate that lower gray matter volume or greater loss of gray matter over time are associated with the duration of antipsychotic treatment or cumulative antipsychotic intake.