Early Death Associated With Antipsychotics

There are a vast number of studies that document the diverse range of side effects caused by antipsychotic drugs. These adverse effects include brain damage, tardive dyskinesia, Parkinsonian symptoms, akathisia, cognitive impairment, and metabolic disorders. Mad in America documents these negative effects; see Psychrights for PDFs of many of these studies.

On the fact that continual use of antipsychotics leads to early death, see the following:

1. Sudden unexplained death in psychiatric in-patients.  Appleby, L. British Journal of Psychiatry 176 (2000):405-406.

Neuroleptics may cause sudden death by inducing cardiac arrhythmias and QT prolongation.

2. Mortality in schizophrenia.  Waddington, J. Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 20 (2000):188-194.

3. Tardive dyskinesia associated with higher mortality in psychiatric patients. Ballesteros, J. British Journal of Psychiatry 173 (1998):325-329.

Over a 10-year period, 39 out of 88 patient on antipsychotic drugs died. Reduced survival was associated with the administration of two or more neuroleptics at the same time, and time since withdrawal of antipsychotics   (patients maintained on antipsychotics became burdened with chronic physical illness, so much so that it replaced the “psychiatric disorder as the primary focus of medical care.”) The final pathway to early death was global medical decline and death from respiratory illness.

4. Lifetime suicide rates in treated schizophrenia..  Healy, D. British Journal of Psychiatry 188 (2006):223-228.

This study found a 20-fold increase in the suicide rate for people diagnosed with schizophrenia in the modern era.

5. Prospective analysis of premature mortality in schizophrenia in relation to health service engagement.Morgan, M. Psychiatry Research 117 (2003):127-135.

This study concluded that “risk for death in schizophrenia was doubled on a background of enduring engagement in psychiatric care with increasing provision of community-based services and introduction of second-generation antipsychotics.”

6. Schizophrenia, neuroleptic medication and mortality.  Joukamaa, M. British Journal of Psychiatry 188 (2006):122-127.

Researchers report that in an given period of time, the relative risk of dying rises 2.5 times per increment of neuroleptic.


Mad in America Documents

The evidence for antipsychotics

Antipsychotics and chronic illness

Antipsychotics and progressive brain dysfunction

Early death associated with antipsychotic drugs

Outcomes in the era of atypical antipsychotics

Modern experimental programs producing better outcomes

Timeline for antipsychotics




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