, Volume 114, Issue 4, pp 529-538

Pharmacologic treatment of schizoaffective disorder

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In contrast to the considerable systematic study of the pharmacologic treatment of schizophrenia and mood disorders, the pharmacologic treatment of schizoaffective disorder has been relatively ignored. The authors reviewed the available literature regarding the pharmacologic treatment of schizoaffective disorder. The total number of controlled studies of the acute and prophylactic treatment of schizoaffective disorder was small and few used modern criteria to define the disorder. In studies of schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type (manic), lithium and antipsychotics produced comparable albeit incomplete responses, except in highly agitated patients when antipsychotics exerted superior efficacy. The combination of lithium and antipsychotics appeared to be superior to antipsychotics alone for schizoaffective, bipolar type patients. In the only controlled study of schizoaffective disorder, depressed type, the presumed superiority of combined antidepressant and antipsychotic treatment to antipsychotic alone was not found. Although combined antipsychotic and thymoleptic treatment represents common prophylactic management of schizoaffective disorder in clinical practice, the efficacy of this strategy has not been studied in controlled trials. Advances in the nosology of schizoaffective disorder, emerging epidemiologic data demonstrating large numbers of patients with this disorder in clinical populations, and preliminary evidence that clozapine may have combined antipsychotic and thymoleptic properties as well as efficacy in both the psychotic and affective components of schizoaffective disorder, suggest that renewed interest in the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder may lead to improved delivery of care for this understudied but seriously ill group of patients.

Supported in part by a grant from the Alliance for the Mentally Ill, Hamilton County, Ohio.