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Keywords:

  • schizophrenia;
  • citalopram;
  • neuroleptics;
  • antidepressants

The effects of citalopram — the most selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor on the market — on psychopathological symptoms were studied in chronic schizophrenic patients on a stable regimen of neuroleptic medication. Outpatients suffering from schizophrenic disorder (DSM-III-R) with Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) scores higher than 50 were included in a double-blind placebo-controlled add-on study. The daily dose of citalopram was 20 mg in the first week and 40 mg for the remaining period. A total of 90 patients (45 patients receiving citalopram and 45 receiving placebo) completed the 12-week trial. There were no changes in neuroleptic plasma levels during the trial. There was a significant decrease in total PANNS scores during the trial, although no statistically significant differences between the citalopram group and the placebo group were revealed. The number of responders in terms of severity of illness (CGI) was higher and the increase in subjective well-being (VAS) was greater in patients on citalopram than in those receiving placebo. There were no significant differences in the occurrence of side-effects. It is concluded that, in chronic schizophrenic out-patients, citalopram has no clear effect on the psychopathological symptoms; it may improve the general clinical condition, and it appears to increase the subjective well-being of these patients. Citalopram appears to be safe when used to treat schizophrenic patients who are receiving concomitant neuroleptic treatment.