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Are schizophrenics over-medicated?

NEW YORK, March 21 (UPI) -- Some psychiatrists say that schizophrenics are being over-medicated and that some people can manage without drugs at least for periods of time.

That conflicts with what has become conventional wisdom in the field, with most experts saying drug treatment as soon as the disease is recognized is vital, the New York Times reports.

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A report to be published in the journal Schizophrenia Bulletin examines six studies conducted between 1959 and 2003. Two of the studies found that patients treated quickly with drugs did much better, while four showed that those who were drug-free for some period did better.

"My personal view is that the pendulum has swung too far, and there's this knee-jerk reaction out there that says that any period off medication, even for research, is on the face of it unethical," said Dr. William Carpenter, director of the University of Maryland's Psychiatric Research Center and editor of the journal.

But Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, head of psychiatry at the Columbia University Medical Center, said that not medicating is "flat-out nuts."

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