Determining the optimal dose of haloperidol in first-episode psychosis

J Psychopharmacol. 2001 Dec;15(4):251-5. doi: 10.1177/026988110101500403.


Uncertainty exists as to the most appropriate dose of haloperidol in first-episode psychosis. This study set out to determine whether ultra-low doses of haloperidol could successfully treat patients with first-episode psychosis. Thirty-five patients with a first episode of psychosis were treated with haloperidol in an open label, fixed protocol over a 12-week period with doses restricted to 1 mg per day for the first 4 weeks. Twenty-nine (83%) remained on haloperidol after 12 weeks at a mean dose of 1.78 mg per day, 16 (55%) had stabilized on 1 mg/day or less. The mean percentage reduction in Positive and Negative Symptom Scale score between baseline and 6 and 12 weeks was 30.3% (SD 20.9%) and 41.4% (SD 16.6%), respectively. There were no significant differences in mean extrapyramidal symptom ratings between baseline and 12 weeks. Ultra-low doses of haloperidol are effective and well tolerated in first-episode psychosis. Initial doses should be maintained for a sufficient period of time to allow for the medication to take full effect.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Antipsychotic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Basal Ganglia Diseases / chemically induced
  • Female
  • Haloperidol / administration & dosage*
  • Haloperidol / adverse effects
  • Haloperidol / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychotic Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Haloperidol