Some Schizophrenia Drugs Can Make Symptoms Worse

People suffering from schizophrenia take comfort in the success rates of antipsychotics in decreasing the symptoms of that disease. Unfortunately, new research claims that second-generation antipsychotics may be associated with lower levels of the hormone oxytocin, and that those lower levels may cause an increase in negative symptoms.

Testing Oxytocin Levels

Scientists at the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry in Tokyo, Japan, took fluid samples from between the vertebrae of 27 schizophrenic men and 21 healthy individuals. There was no significant difference in levels between the groups.

Oxytocin and Schizophrenia

In the schizophrenic patients taking second-generation antipsychotics, however, the amount of oxytocin that was available for use was much lower than controls. This was not the case for schizophrenic patients on first-generation drugs. Crucially, negative symptoms were simultaneously associated with decreased oxytocin levels, as measured by the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS).

Implications

The research group is quick to point out that their work should not be taken to suggest that anti-psychotics don't work. Instead, they hoped to illustrate a so-far-undiscovered mechanism whereby a certain chemical produced by the body in response to stress (in this case, oxytocin) may alter the effectiveness of some psychiatric medications for certain categories of symptoms.

Source: Schizophrenia Research

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