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Antipsychotic Medications Lower Violent Crime Rates

Update Date: May 08, 2014 10:20 AM EDT

For people with mental illnesses, taking prescribed medications can greatly change their moods, behaviors and actions. In a new study, researchers analyzed the relationship between taking antipsychotic medications or mood stabilizers and rate of violent crimes. They found that when people with psychiatric illnesses are good about their medications, they become around 50 percent less likely to commit a violent crime in comparison to when they skip their medications.

The study, headed by researchers from the United Kingdom and Sweden, examined data on more than 80,000 patients made up of 40,937 men and 41,710 women. The data were taken from the Swedish national health registries and all patients had been prescribed some kind of antipsychotic or mood stabilizing drug between 2006 and 2009. During the study time, 2,657 men or 6.5 percent and 604 women or 1.4 percent had committed a violent crime.

The researchers then analyzed the rate of violent crimes when patients were either on or off their medications. They found that when the participants were taking their antipsychotic medications, their violent crime rates fell by 45 percent in comparison to when they were not on the medications. For patients taking mood stabilizers, their rate of violent crimes fell by 24 percent. The researchers did not find a relationship between taking both medications, which is often the case, and more reductions in the patients' violent crime rates.

"Patients with psychiatric disorders are at risk of perpetrating violent acts, as well as being victims. Until now, we have not known whether antipsychotics and mood stabilizers reduce risks of violence. By comparing the same people when they are on medication compared to when they are not, our study provides evidence of potentially substantial reductions in risk of violence, and suggests that violence is to a large extent preventable in patients with psychiatric disorders," said the study's lead investigator, Dr. Seena Fazel of Oxford University, UK, reported by Medical Xpress.

The study, "Antipsychotics, mood stabilisers, and risk of violent crime," was published in The Lancet.

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