Treatment of schizoaffective disorder
and schizophrenia with mood symptoms

Levinson DF, Umapathy C, Musthaq M
Department of Psychiatry,
MCP Hahnemann School of Medicine,
Allegheny University of the Health Sciences,
Philadelphia, PA 19129, USA.
Am J Psychiatry 1999 Aug; 156(8): 1138-48


OBJECTIVE: Patients with concurrent schizophrenic and mood symptoms are often treated with antipsychotics plus antidepressant or thymoleptic drugs. The authors review the literature on treatment of two overlapping groups of patients: those with schizoaffective disorder and those with schizophrenia and concurrent mood symptoms. METHOD: MEDLINE searches (from 1976 onward) were undertaken to identify treatment studies of both groups, and references in these reports were checked. Selection of studies for review was based on the use of specified diagnostic criteria and of parallel-group, double-blind design (or, where few such studies addressed a particular issue, large open studies). A total of 18 treatment studies of schizoaffective disorder and 15 of schizophrenia with mood symptoms were selected for review. RESULTS: For acute exacerbations of schizoaffective disorder or of schizophrenia with mood symptoms, antipsychotics appeared to be as effective as combination treatments, and there was some evidence for superior efficacy of atypical antipsychotics. There was evidence supporting adjunctive antidepressant treatment for schizophrenic and schizoaffective patients who develop a major depressive syndrome after remission of acute psychosis, but there were mixed results for treatment of subsyndromal depression. There was little evidence to support adjunctive lithium for depressive symptoms and no evidence concerning its use for manic symptoms in patients with schizophrenia. CONCLUSIONS: Empirical data suggest that both groups of patients are best treated by optimizing antipsychotic treatment and that atypical antipsychotics may prove to be most effective. Adjunctive antidepressants may be useful for patients with major depression who are not acutely ill. Careful longitudinal assessment is required to ensure identification of primary mood disorders.
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