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Management of constipation in patients with schizophrenia—a case study and review of literature

, Sabiha Armin, Aurelio Vargas, Victoria M. Chu, Kristen Fain, Jessica Nelson
Published: 5 April 2021
Middle East Current Psychiatry , Volume 28, pp 1-7; doi:10.1186/s43045-021-00097-6

Abstract: Background Schizophrenia is a disorder that affects about 1% of the US population, with an extensive impact on patients’ health and their risk of later developing comorbidities from treatment. While literature on the side effect profile of antipsychotics is abundant, there are few studies on identification of anticholinergic effects on gut motility and prophylaxis development. The aim of this review is to consider antipsychotic-associated constipation in patients with schizophrenia and to discuss management of antipsychotic-induced constipation as documented in the literature. Main body We present a case of antipsychotic-induced constipation and conducted a literature review assessing the prevalence of this issue in this population. The search was done on Embase, MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, and PubMed databases. Key word searches included constipation with concurrent antipsychotic use, antipsychotics and anticholinergic effects, factors causing constipation in schizophrenia, social disparities involved with constipation, and colorectal cancer screenings. Main findings included high complication rates that may be explained by clozapine-specific side effects, negative health habits, disease, and treatment-related metabolic disorders. Co-existing negative symptoms could also be associated with health outcomes and was found to have adverse consequences on schizophrenia progression. Comorbidities of diabetes and cardiovascular complications contributed to gut hypomotility. Caregiver burden was a factor in delayed recognition of constipation as a side effect. Routine surveillance for symptoms and optimization of medications facilitates early recognition of constipation. Conclusion Overall, there is insufficient trial-based evidence to compare the effectiveness and safety of common pharmacological interventions for constipation, such as lactulose, polyethylene glycol, stool softeners, and lubricant laxatives.
Keywords: Schizophrenia / Antipsychotic-induced constipation / Constipation screening / Bowel regimen

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