Pharmacological treatment of negative symptoms in schizophrenia

Hans Jürgen Möller, Pal Czobor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

31 Citations (Scopus)


Effective treatment of negative symptoms is one of the most important unmet needs in schizophrenic disorders. Because the evidence on current psychopharmacological treatments is unclear, the authors reviewed the findings published to date by searching PubMed with the keywords negative symptoms, antipsychotics, antidepressants, glutamatergic compounds, monotherapy and add-on therapy and identifying additional articles in the reference lists of the resulting publications. The findings presented here predominantly focus on results of meta-analyses. Evidence for efficacy of current psychopharmacological medications is difficult to assess because of methodological problems and inconsistent results. In general, the second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) do not appear to have good efficacy in negative symptoms, although some show better efficacy than first-generation antipsychotics, some of which also demonstrated efficacy in negative symptoms. Specific trials on predominant persistent negative symptoms are rare and have been performed with only a few SGAs. More often, trials on somewhat persistent negative symptoms evaluate add-on strategies to ongoing antipsychotic treatment. Such trials, mostly on modern antidepressants, have demonstrated some efficacy. Several trials with small samples have evaluated add-on treatment with glutamatergic compounds, such as the naturally occurring amino acids glycine and d-serine and new pharmacological compounds. The results are highly inconsistent, although overall efficacy results appear to be positive. The unsatisfactory and inconsistent results can be partially explained by methodological problems. These problems need to be solved in the future, and the authors propose some possible solutions. Further research is required to identify effective treatment for the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-578
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 22 2015


  • Antidepressants
  • Antipsychotics
  • Glutamatergic compounds
  • Negative symptoms
  • Pharmacological treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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