Current Data on and Clinical Insights into the Treatment of First Episode Nonaffective Psychosis: A Comprehensive Review
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Implementing the most suitable treatment strategies and making appropriate clinical decisions about individuals with a first episode of psychosis (FEP) is a complex and crucial task, with relevant impact in illness outcome. Treatment approaches in the early stages should go beyond choosing the right antipsychotic drug and should also address tractable factors influencing the risk of relapse. Effectiveness and likely metabolic and endocrine disturbances differ among second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) and should guide the choice of the first-line treatment. Clinicians should be aware of the high risk of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in schizophrenia patients, and therefore monitoring weight and metabolic changes across time is mandatory. Behavioral and counseling interventions might be partly effective in reducing weight gain and metabolic disturbances. Ziprasidone and aripiprazole have been described to be least commonly associated with weight gain or metabolic changes. In addition, some of the SGAs (risperidone, amisulpride, and paliperidone) have been associated with a significant increase of plasma prolactin levels. Overall, in cases of FEP, there should be a clear recommendation of using lower doses of the antipsychotic medication. If no or minimal clinical improvement is found after 2 weeks of treatment, such patients may benefit from a change or augmentation of treatment. Clinicians should provide accurate information to patients and relatives about the high risk of relapse if antipsychotics are discontinued, even if patients have been symptom free and functionally recovered on antipsychotic treatment for a lengthy period of time.
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