Thursday, February 08, 2007

An SSRI Was All That Was Missing...

…from this patient’s interesting drug cocktail, reported in the Journal of the Association of Physicians in India. The patient was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and she overdosed, downing 22 days worth of medication simultaneously. On a daily basis, she was prescribed: 4mg risperidone (Risperdal), 40mg ziprasidone (Geodon), 1g divalproex (Depakote), 2 mg of trihexyphenidyl (Artane; likely to control side movement disorder side effects from her antipsychotics), and 3mg of clonazepam (Klonpin).

If you’re keeping score at home, that’s:
*2 antipsychotics
*1 medication to control side effects of antipsychotics
*1 “mood stabilizer”
*1 antianxiety medication

The news flash is not that she overdosed; it’s that such combinations are prescribed with some frequency. This report just drives home the point what many of us already know – psychiatric polypharmacy (the prescription of multiple psych meds at once) has gone wild, and apparently this is not limited to Europe and the USA.

The good news is that the patient survived her overdose. The bad news is that we have no idea of how prescribing so many meds may impact the functioning of people.

However, not all cases of psychiatric polypharmacy have such benign endings. Especially when the cases involve young children diagnosed with (what else) bipolar disorder. Read more about a very sad case over at Furious Seasons.

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