Since the introduction of chlorpromazine, the first antipsychotic drug, it has been evident that a large number of patients have schizophrenia that is treatment resistant. It is estimated that between 20% and 60% of patients have schizophrenia that is resistant to treatment.1,2
The relationship between treatment-resistant and treatment-responsive schizophrenia is not strictly black and white. No particular psychopathology of schizophrenia specifically suggests treatment-resistant disease. Brenner and Merlo3 proposed that treatment-resistant schizophrenia be considered at one end of a spectrum of antipsychotic drug response rather than being clearly differentiated from treatment-responsive schizophrenia. However, patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia do tend to have prominent negative and cognitive symptoms and more severe psychopathology than patients whose condition responds to antipsychotic drugs.
Chronicity has often been confused with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a chronic disorder that progresses to various levels of clinical deterioration without sustained remission or full recovery. In contrast with treatment-resistant schizophrenia, chronicity is associated with a favorable response to drug treatment, in which schizophrenic features are largely under control for 6 months or longer or there is partial recovery to the premorbid level of functioning.4,5
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