Aim: To review the place of antioxidants in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, and to weigh it against the criticism for such treatments.
Background: Oxidative stress leads to aging, and antioxidant use (naturally available in food and supplementations) is one of the dietary modality for health promotion with major benefits. Antioxidants have also been used in treatment and prevention of many medical disorders. Brain, one organ using oxygen abundantly, and for its high lipid content suffers from oxidative stress. Even postmortem studies of brains of individuals with psychiatric disorders show degenerative changes possibly due to long-term damage by oxidative stress. Hence, the use of antioxidants in treating psychiatric disorders is one of the new areas of research in psychiatry.
Review results: Many agents have been used in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Gingko biloba, Selegiline, omega- 3-triglycerides, vitamin E, and N-acetyl cysteine have been found useful as adjuncts in the treatment of schizophrenia. Similarly, the usefulness of adjunct N-acetyl cysteine and ethyleicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) treatment in bipolar depression is reported. omega-3-triglycerides have also been used in the treatment of dementia as an adjunct with mixed results. Ubiquinol has shown promise in treating autism.
Conclusion: The results of adjunct antioxidant treatment in psychiatry have been mixed with at times conflicting results. Much research is required to establish their place as a treatment modality in psychiatry.
Clinical significance: Use of antioxidants in the treatment of psychiatric disorders, at Max, currently, is of adjunct value only; even the cost-effectiveness of such treatments has to weighed against the useful clinical utility.
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