Postconcussive Syndrome Psychiatric Care Medication

Updated: Jul 25, 2019
  • Author: Roy H Lubit, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

N-acetylcysteine given in the hours after a TBI may decrease oxydative damage and speed healing. [25]

Patients with head injury may require treatment with psychotropic medication for the specific symptoms of which the patient is suffering. These symptoms include irritability, headaches, insomnia, apathy, and, in rare cases, psychosis.

Brain damage renders patients more sensitive to adverse anticholinergic effects, seizures, and drug-induced parkinsonism. Slower than normal titration may be needed.

Dopamine-blocking agents (eg, haloperidol) and adrenergic-blocking agents (eg, clonidine, prazosin) compromise brain tissue repair in animal laboratory models. Dopamine-potentiating agents (eg, dextroamphetamine) enhance recovery in animal models. These effects have not been documented in humans with head injury, although alpha-blockers, haloperidol, and benzodiazepines may adversely affect functional outcome after strokes.

According to an FDA advisory, atypical antipsychotic drugs of various classes (including aripiprazole, risperidone, quetiapine, olanzapine) increase mortality when given for behavioral disorders in patients who are elderly and have dementia. The implication of these findings for the treatment of dementia or behavioral disorders after head injury are unknown. In the studies cited by the FDA, the excess mortality reflected deaths from infections and heart disease, conditions more common in the elderly population than in the younger population of patients with head injury.

Practitioners should be aware, at minimum, that the use of antipsychotic drugs for conditions other than schizophrenia and mania is off-label and should be carefully monitored.