Purpose of review: We aimed to review literature on the efficacy and tolerability of psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions in youth with early-onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders (EOS). A rationale for pragmatic psychopharmacology in EOS, including dosing, switching and adverse effect monitoring and management, is provided.
Recent findings: Three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) over the last 8 years demonstrated benefits of psychosocial interventions (i.e. psychoeducation, cognitive remediation, cognitive behavioural therapy) for EOS without clear advantages of one psychosocial treatment over another. Six large, placebo-controlled, short-term RCTs over the last 4 years demonstrated that aripiprazole, olanzapine, paliperidone, quetiapine and risperidone, but not ziprasidone, were superior to placebo. Except for clozapine's superiority in treatment-refractory EOS, efficacy appeared similar across studied first-generation and second-generation antipsychotics, but tolerability varied greatly across individual agents.
Summary: Antipsychotics are efficacious in the treatment of EOS. Given the lack of efficacy differences between antipsychotics (except for clozapine for treatment-refractory EOS), we propose that tolerability considerations need to guide choice of antipsychotics. Further and longer-term efficacy and effectiveness studies are urgently needed that should also explore pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic augmentation strategies.