September 05, 2005

Benefits of Depot Antipsychotics

A depot antipsychotic is essentially an injectable antipsychotic medication that is released into the body slowly over an extended period of time. Comparisons with other developed nations suggests that depot injections are significantly underutilized in the US, as they are prescribed to only 5% of the population requiring antipsychotics. In Canada they are prescribed at a rate of 15-20%, and in Europe they are prescribed to 35-50% of patients with psychotic disorders.

The key benefit of depot injections is that they help prevent people from forgetting to take their medications - missed medication is one of the leading causes of relapse or other negative side effects.

With injectable antipsychotic is that one doesn't have to worry about missing doses and the consequences that can come from it. This helps ensure better adherence to treatment guidelines, as well as much more consistent and predictable release of the medicine into the blood stream, for maximum benefit for the individual taking the medication.

Injectable antipsychotics have the active chemical "suspended in liquid" which helps to make it stay stable. Its slow release protects one from a revival of the symptoms of their illness. The injectable antipsychotic only needs to be given once every 2-4 weeks, which can be given during a visit to a clinic or at one's home.

"Most depot medications are released slowly into the bloodstream and therefore require lower doses than would be necessary on a daily basis. This constant, but low-grade level of dopamine blockade results in a lower potential for the development of troublesome side effects. There is evidence that there is a reduced risk of movement problems, including extrapyramidal side effects and tardive dskinesia. As well, because of the long-term dosing, there are not fluctuations in concentration, meaning a reduction in troublesome sedation, headaches, and restlessness" (Epstein, 2005).

Of course there are certain risks that come with any form of medication, and these should be discussed with one's physician or clinician. Which depot medication is best for you is also something that your psychiatrist will discuss and determine with you.

Original Source: Ask The Doctor column Dr Irvin Epstein CAMH, Toronto, Ontario. Schizophrenia Digest, Canadian edition. Winter 2005.


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