The practice of antipsychotic polypharmacy in schizophrenia appears to be common although evidence-based guidelines do not routinely recommend it. The reasons for polypharmacy are however unclear. The objective of the study was to assess the frequency of polypharmacy, reasons for initiation and the factors associated with it. A retrospective chart review of case records of all the patients diagnosed with schizophrenia at the department of psychiatry from January 2011 to December 2018 was done. Frequency of antipsychotic polypharmacy, reasons influencing it and factors associated with polypharmacy were extracted using a proforma. Of 529 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, 232 patients (43.9 %) were receiving antipsychotic polypharmacy. Common reasons for polypharmacy included the usage of depot along with oral antipsychotic for a prolonged period (37.7 %), augmentation of response with the second antipsychotic (17.7 %) and treatment of a different symptom domain like negative symptoms (9.5 %). In comparison to monopharmacy, antipsychotic polypharmacy was more commonly associated with side effects and extrapyramidal symptoms. Patients on polypharmacy had a higher number of hospitalizations too. As the trend of antipsychotic polypharmacy is on the rise, it is important to assess for reasons influencing polypharmacy to avoid undesirable side effects. The side effect burden of polypharmacy is significantly more than those receiving single antipsychotics. Oral antipsychotics should ideally be discontinued after the depot antipsychotic reaches steady-state levels. Irrational usage of second antipsychotic to augment the response of first antipsychotic agent needs to be avoided.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health