Tapering Off Medications When “Symptoms Have Remitted”:
Does That Make Sense?

Ron Unger, LCSW
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While a 2-year outcome study by Wunderink, et al. has been cited as evidence that guided discontinuation of antipsychotics for people whose psychosis has remitted results in twice as much “relapse,” a not-yet-published followup of that study, extending it to 7 years using a naturalistic followup, finds that the guided discontinuation group had twice the recovery rates, and no greater overall relapse rate (with a trend toward the medication group having more relapse).

A video of a presentation on this 7 year outcome study is at

http://iepa-vcl.eppic.org.au/content/remission-relapse-and-recovery-following-early-guided-discontinuation-antipsychotics-vs

Of course this study doesn’t prove that everyone will do better off medication.  In the study, they only tried to help people off medication if people seemed to be doing well on medication for 6 months, and they felt they couldn’t tolerate people experiencing “florid psychosis” while off medication.  But I think it does really support the contention that outcomes for long term use of antipsychotics varies from short term outcome, and that we should be trying to give more people a chance to experience the possible benefits of either never starting, or getting off, antipsychotics.

 

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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