Antipsychotics cut crime, says study

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A study published in the Lancet last week says that the risk of a patient committing a violent crime is greatly reduced if their psychiatric illness is treated with an antipsychotic drug, adding weight to the argument that severely mentally ill people need treatment.

Although the consensus among mental health experts is that those with psychiatric illnesses are far more likely to be victims of violence rather than committing it, the study also notes that those with severe mental illnesses are three times more likely than the general populace to be violent. There has, however, been a question as to whether treatment lowered the risk of violence significantly.

Using a Swedish national database of medical records, Dr. Seena Fazel of Britain's Oxford University compared records of people born in Sweden between 1961 and 1990 and identified nearly 41,000 men and 41,700 women who'd been prescribed an antipsychotic or mood stabilizer between 2006 and 2009. Comparing this to criminal records and referencing for the type of drug given produced statistical rates.

"We noted substantially lower rates of violent crime when any of the three classes of medication had been prescribed, specifically for antipsychotics and mood stabilizers," study authors wrote.

"In the three years studied, 6.5 percent (2,657) of the men, and 1.4 percent (604) of women were convicted of a violent crime. Compared with periods when participants were not on medication, violent crime fell by 45 percent in patients receiving antipsychotics, and by 24 percent in patients prescribed mood stabilizers."

Further, doubling up on medications showed no difference in the likelihood, they also noted.

 
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