A Side Effect of Antipsychotic Drugs called Akinesia keeps people with schizophrenia sleeping all day

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Many of the complaints I read on the Schizophrenia Forum for families and my own experience with my son with schizophrenia have to do with children with this disease sleeping all day in their rooms. Here is some insight on this that I have found through research.

In 1967, a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) research psychiatrist named George Crane announced a startling finding: 25 percent of patients on NIMH research wards manifested the symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder. Other negative side effects also received renewed attention. Columbia University basically rediscovered the syndrome of drug-induced psychomotor indifference in 1975. Calling it akinesia, they reported that it occurred frequently and that psychiatrists—including themselves in earlier work—rarely recognized it as a drug side effect. At about the same time, researchers at UCLA reported that medications produced psychological distress in almost half of patients, and that psychiatrists rarely noticed the problem.

Studies have also shown that many psychiatrists are not clinically astute in their ability to diagnose side effects. In one study of psychiatrists, for example, “the major finding was a high rate of clinical under recognition of all major extrapyramidal syndromes.” Another study reported that psychiatrists misjudged how bothersome 24 percent of side effects and 20 percent of symptoms would be to patients. Among the most troubling side effects of antipsychotic medication are akathisia (feelings of restlessness), akinesia (movement indifference), and sexual dysfunction. Akinesia is also especially difficult for clinicians to appreciate because it is primarily a subjective experience and may be confused with depression. The author notes here that in every major complaint from families with schizophrenic adult children living with them in their homes reported in the Schizophrenic Forum, is their apathy to move and reluctance to leave their room in the home.

Akinesia is a side effect of newer atypical antipsychotics and not found with an older antipsychotic, Closapine. Doctors in programs such as the NY Track program are offering simpler antipsychotics like clozapine with effectiveness at lower doses. This medicine has fewer side effects such as movement disorders and weight gain, and is more effective at lower dosages than the newer atypical antipsychotics promoted by the drug companies.

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