Use of psychotropic medication in women with psychotic disorders at menopause and beyond

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Drugs have been extensively prescribed for the treatment of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia and related disorders, as well as for the management of psychotic features in delirium, dementia and affective disorders. The aim of this narrative review is to focus on the recent literature on drug treatment in women with psychosis at the transition to menopause and subsequently.

Recent findings

The recent literature emphasizes the following points: the efficacy of antipsychotic medication in psychosis is largely confined to the alleviation of delusions and hallucinations; menopause and ageing alter the kinetics and dynamics of drug action; drugs other than antipsychotics are currently being tested to address the cognitive, affective and negative symptoms of psychotic illnesses; menopausal symptoms add to comorbidities and require simultaneous treatment, raising the probability of deleterious drug interactions; antipsychotic drugs have many side effects and contribute to high mortality rates in the older psychosis population.

Summary

A major implication for research is that antipsychotic drugs with a wider range of action and with fewer side effects are urgently needed. The clinical implications of the pharmacotherapy of psychotic illness are: older women's needs must be assessed through a comprehensive history and review of systems and physical and mental examination. To avoid adverse effects, drug dosages are best kept low and polypharmacy avoided wherever possible. It is important to frequently reassess older patients, as their pharmacotherapy requirements change with age and with comorbidity.

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