A UK study supports the view that neuroleptic drugs cause brain damage. An article on this study, Anti-psychotics likely to cause brain damage, new study claims, has been published on the psychminded.co.uk website.
The results challenge the widely-held view that schizophrenia itself causes brain structural changes, such as less brain grey matter, bigger ventricles and larger cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) spaces, claim researchers.
Earlier this year, the results of this research were published in the Psychological Medicine journal.
Studying MRI scans, researchers compared brain changes in patients on drugs to those not maintained on drugs. 14 of 24 studies showed the brain sizes of people on neuroleptic drugs had shrunken appreciably. Only 5 of 21 studies of people not maintained on neuroleptic drugs showed any shrinkage, but no difference was reported in 3 of these studies involving patients who had been ill for a long time, and yet who took no neuroleptic drugs.
I imagine some of the patients who didn’t take the drugs had taken the drugs at some point in their lives, and that might explain some of the discrepancies in these results a little.
“Overall there seems to be enough evidence to suggest that antipsychotic drug treatment may play a role in reducing brain volume and increasing CSF or ventricular spaces,” the researchers wrote. Further research is urgently required, stated the paper, entitled A Systematic Review of the Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs on Brain Volume.
Note: the word used here is urgent.
This kind of research has been going on for some time, and for some time it has been receiving a cold shoulder from many professional psychiatrists. I don’t think ignorance is ever in the best interests of good health.
Dr [Joanne] Moncrieff, also a London NHS psychiatrist, told psychminded.co.uk: “The psychiatric community still seem unworried by this [the possible effects on the brain of anti-psychotic medication] and continue to focus on the idea that schizophrenia is causing the brain damage.”
Psychiatry has been good at exploiting one theory at the expense of another, but I think ultimately the psychiatric community will have to take a good long hard look at the evidence. It may take a long time before they get around to the evidence though, and this is time some people can’t afford to have wasted, especially as it is tallied in brain mass.