Add-on benzodiazepines for psychosis-induced aggression

Stanislav Baranchik, Rafael Stryjer, Abraham Weizman, Assaf Shelef*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In severely psychotic, violent patients, add-on benzodiazepines are often prescribed with antipsychotic agents. We examined aggression, suicidality, and self-harm among psychotic patients treated with antipsychotic monotherapy, compared with those treated with add-on benzodiazepines, during the first 2 weeks of psychiatric hospitalization to clarify the association of add-on benzodiazepines and aggression. Electronic medical records of 400 patients consecutively admitted to Abarbanel Mental Health Center from 2012 to 2014 for psychosis, and remained hospitalized for at least 2 weeks were evaluated. Violence toward staff, patients, and property, physical restraints, seclusion, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts, were examined. Falls and referrals to general hospital indicated adverse medication effects, and were recorded. No significant between-group differences were found for sex, age, psychiatric diagnosis, compulsory admissions, antipsychotic dosages, number of previous hospitalizations, or hospitalization days were detected. Maximum dosage for antipsychotics in the monotherapy group did not reveal a statistically significant difference from the add-on benzodiazepine group (2.2 ± 1.4 vs. 2.2 ± 1.3, respectively), expressed in defined daily dose. There were no between-group differences in frequency of any violent event, incidence of self-harm, suicidal thoughts, frequency of falls, and/or referrals to a general hospital. Addition of benzodiazepines might be unnecessary. Benzodiazepine addition to antipsychotic drugs for patients with severe psychosis should be with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-123
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Clinical Psychopharmacology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019


  • add-on treatment
  • antipsychotic agents
  • benzodiazepines
  • severe psychosis
  • side-effects


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