Conventional drugs can reduce acute, positive symptoms ed. hallucinations. They produce the maximum benefits within the first six months of use. Atypical antipsychotic drugs also target negative symptoms but there is some evidence that they reduce negative symptoms too. They also act on the dopamine system but are also thought to block serotonin receptors.
One way to test the effectiveness of conventional drugs is to compare the relapse rate of placebo. Davis use meta-analysis and found relapse occurred in 55% of p[patients whose drugs were replaced by placebo’s compared with a 19% relapse rate for those who stayed on antipsychotics. Davis did find that environment also play a role in relapse rate of treatment. Relapse rate of patient who stayed in a hostility and criticism family on medication were 53% compared to 92% for those under the placebo condition, whereas those living in supportive home environments there was no significant difference between the medication and placebo group.
However, ross and read argued that Davis studies are not fair comparison of treatment versus non- treatment because under the placebo condition the patient is in a drug withdrawal state, which the previously blocked dopamine system becomes flooded with dopamine. This leads to the system being overwhelmed. As a result, a proportion of the relapse the placebo condition can be explained by the withdrawal effects of the drug. Another weakness of conventional drugs is that the conventional drugs only target dopamine (Kapur and Remington). They propose that the drugs act on the dopamine system, but only temporarily, dopamine transmission then returns to normal. This can explain the reduced amount of side effects eg. tardive dyskensia when taking these drugs in comparison to conventional psychotics.
Antipsychotic drugs have revolutionised the management of schizophrenia. They can reduce disturbing symptoms and the amount of time spent in hospital. They have enabled patients to lead relatively normal lives. However, conventional drugs produce serious side effects, which raise questions on their appropriateness for treating schizophrenia. Tardive dyskinesia, which includes uncontrollable facial movements, occurs in 30% of patients taking the drugs. The risk increases with prolonged usage. Motivational deficits, Ross and Read argue that prescribing medication reinforces the view that there is something wrong with you. This result in reduced their motivation to look for other possible solutions in order to reduce other stressors and their suffering. Other side effects include low blood pressure, blurred vision and constipation.
Atypical antipsychotics were introduced to raise the expectations of reducing side effect, a meta-analysis , which comparing conventional with atypical drugs showed only moderate differences. There is also only limited support atypical drugs are more effective with negative symptoms of SZ. However, there is less likelihood of developing tardive dyskinesia as supported by study by Jeste. Findings showed 30% of people on conventional antipsychotics with condition after 9 months in comparison with only 5% treated...