Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 April 2020
As weight-gain and metabolic abnormalities during treatment with psychotropic drugs are of great concern, we evaluated effects of psycho-education and medical monitoring on metabolic changes among severely mentally ill patients.
During repeated, systematic psycho-education about general health among 66 consecutive patients diagnosed with DSM-IV-TR schizophrenia (n = 33) or type-I bipolar disorder (n = 33), we evaluated (at intake 1, 2, 3, and 6 months) clinical psychiatric status, treatments and doses, recorded physiological parameters, and assessed attitudes about medication.
At intake, patients with schizophrenia vs bipolar disorder were receiving 3–7 times more psychotropic medication, with 14% higher initial body-mass index (BMI: 29.1 vs 25.6 kg/m2), 12 times more obesity, and significantly higher serum lipid concentrations. During 6-months follow-up, among bipolar disorder patients, polytherapy and serum lipid concentrations declined more than among schizophrenia patients (e.g., total cholesterol + triglycerides, by 3.21 vs 1.75%/month). BMI remained stable. Declining lipid levels were associated with older age, bipolar disorder, being unemployed, higher antipsychotic doses, and lower initial BPRS scores (all P ≤ 0.001).
Psychotropic treatments were more complex, and metabolic measures more abnormal among bipolar disorder than schizophrenia patients. Intensive psycho-education, clinical monitoring, and encouragement of weight-control for six months were associated with improvements in metabolic measures (but not to BMI), and more realistic attitudes about medication.
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