A first step towards personalized medicine is to consider whether, for some disorders, the safest and most effective treatment of women needs to differ from standard guideline recommendations developed on the basis of clinical trials conducted, for the most part, in men. A second step is to consider how women’s reproductive stages—pre-pubertal years, menstrual phases, pregnancy trimesters, lactation and postpartum periods, menopausal and postmenopausal/aging status—affect the optimal choice of treatment. This review focuses on these two steps in the treatment of psychosis, specifically schizophrenia. It discusses genetics, precursors and symptoms of schizophrenia, reproductive and associated ethical issues, antipsychotic drug response and adverse effects, substance abuse, victimization and perpetration of violence, and issues of immigration and of co-morbidity. The conclusions, while often based on clinical experience and theoretical considerations rather than strictly on the evidence of randomized controlled trials, are that clinical recommendations need to consider clinical and role differences that exist between men and women and make appropriate correction for age and reproductive status.
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