The main objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of akathisia in a community-dwelling sample of patients with schizophrenia, and to determine the effects of treatments and the clinical variables associated with akathisia. 372 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder were systematically included in the network of FondaMental Expert Center for Schizophrenia and assessed with validated scales. Akathisia was measured with the Barnes Akathisia Scale (BAS). Ongoing psychotropic treatment was recorded. The global prevalence of akathisia (as defined by a score of 2 or more on the global akathisia subscale of the BAS) in our sample was 18.5%. Patients who received antipsychotic polytherapy were at higher risk of akathisia and this result remained significant (adjusted odd ratio=2.04, p=.025) after controlling the influence of age, gender, level of education, level of psychotic symptoms, substance use comorbidities, current administration of antidepressant, anticholinergic drugs, benzodiazepines, and daily-administered antipsychotic dose. The combination of second-generation antipsychotics was associated with a 3-fold risk of akathisia compared to second-generation antipsychotics used in monotherapy. Our results indicate that antipsychotic polytherapy should be at best avoided and suggest that monotherapy should be recommended in cases of akathisia. Long-term administration of benzodiazepines or anticholinergic drugs does not seem to be advisable in cases of akathisia, given the potential side effects of these medications.
Keywords: Akathisia; Anticholinergic drug; Antidepressant; Antipsychotic; Benzodiazepine; Schizophrenia.
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