How long should treatment be continued

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Benzodiazepines for anxiety and insomnia should be given for only a few weeks at a time, because of the risk of tolerance and dependence; but antidepressants, if effective, should be continued for several months to prevent relapse. Lithium for prophylaxis of affective disorder, and antipsychotics for maintenance treatment of schizophrenia, are usually continued for several years and sometimes are needed for life.

With difficult or atypical cases, it may be necessary to experiment with different pharmacological groups in order to find the best drug or combination of drugs. Changes should be made one at a time, and not before each one has been given a chance to work.

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