Thursday, August 26, 2010

Do antipsychotics rot your brain?

Post mortems have shown that people with schizophrenia have changes in their brains compared to people without the condition. A number of studies have shown that their brains are smaller, that they have less grey matter and larger ventricles (gaps) with more cerebrospinal fluid. But there is a debate as to whether these changes are due to the effects of schizophrenia or the antipsychotics used to treat it. Researchers from University College London and Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee reviewed 26 MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) studies into this issue and found that 14 of them showed a decline in global brain or grey-matter volume over the course of drug treatment. Three studies of patients with long-term schizophrenia but who had not taken drugs showed no differences in brain volume. The researchers concluded that 'antipsychotics may contribute to the genesis of some of the abnormalities usually attributed to schizophrenia.'

Moncrieff, J. and Leo, J. - A systematic review of the effects of antipsychotic drugs on brain volume Psychological Medicine September 2010, 40(9), 1409-1422

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