DOI: 10.4140/tcp.n.2024.5 ISSN: 2639-9636

Antipsychotics in Perspective: Past, Present, and Future

Steven A. Levenson
  • General Medicine

For more than half a century, there has been controversy and conflict over using psychotropic medications ("psychotropics") as strategies to modulate behavior, enhance mood, and address cognitive issues for nursing home residents. The current situation reflects a long history of investigation, reports, discussions, government and professional activity, and other attempted improvement. Although attention has focused primarily on the use of antipsychotics, particularly to manage symptoms associated with dementia, there are much broader issues. The use of all psychotropics has arguably been challenging and inconsistent. Although antipsychotic use in nursing homes has been reduced substantially, many controversies and concerns remain, such as the continuing significant use of other psychotropics. It is tempting to conclude that efforts to reduce the use of these medications might have been deliberately stymied, and that more drastic—if not coercive—measures are needed to correct these issues. However, many other compelling considerations must be defined accurately and addressed. Further improvement in the current situation requires reconsidering some current beliefs and approaches. A pause and reopening of meaningful discussion is needed. This 3-part series (in this and the next 2 issues of The Senior Care Pharmacist) will examine the history of the issues (this month), various perspectives on the issues (part 2), and lessons and recommended approaches for the future (part 3).

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