Study Highlights Difficulty of Antipsychotic Withdrawal

New research finds insomnia, anxiety, and depression are common symptoms of antipsychotic withdrawal, highlighting difficulties of discontinuation.


A new article published in Psychopharmacology finds that insomnia, anxiety, depression, tremor, headache, and dizziness are common symptoms of antipsychotic withdrawal. The research, led by Wilhelm Storck of Toulouse University Hospital, also finds that some antipsychotic drugs are more associated with withdrawal than others. Tiotixene carries the most significant risk of withdrawal, followed by pimozide, quetiapine, thioridazine, and ziprasidone.

The authors note they were unable to investigate withdrawal psychosis, withdrawal dyskinesia, rebound psychosis, or supersensitivity psychosis due to a lack of World Health Organization codes (WHO). The authors write:

“Our results suggest that there might be a risk difference for WDS between antipsychotics. Tiotixene, pimozide, and quetiapine were associated with a higher risk of reporting a WDS, whereas this risk was lower with chlorpromazine, clozapine, and fluphenazine. We could not address the issue of withdrawal psychosis, withdrawal dyskinesia, rebound psychosis, or supersensitivity psychosis due to the lack of specific WHO medDRA coded terms to identify potential cases.”

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Richard Sears
Richard Sears teaches psychology at West Georgia Technical College and is studying to receive a PhD in consciousness and society from the University of West Georgia. He has previously worked in crisis stabilization units as an intake assessor and crisis line operator. His current research interests include the delineation between institutions and the individuals that make them up, dehumanization and its relationship to exaltation, and natural substitutes for potentially harmful psychopharmacological interventions.