What is antipsychotics?

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What are some examples of antipsychotics?

Here are some examples of antipsychotics. For each item in the list, the generic name is first, followed by any brand names.

  • aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • chlorpromazine
  • haloperidol (Haldol)
  • olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • quetiapine (Seroquel)
  • risperidone (Risperdal, Risperdal Consta)

This is not a complete list.

How do antipsychotics work?

Experts don't know exactly how these medicines work. They think that they work because of how they affect brain chemicals. (These chemicals are called neurotransmitters.)

What are some cautions about antipsychotics?

Cautions for antipsychotics include the following:

  • Antipsychotics may cause you to do a movement over and over, like smacking the lips. This is known as tardive dyskinesia. Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms.
  • These medicines may cause a fast or uneven heartbeat, fast breathing, and severe sweating. Talk to your doctor if you have symptoms.

Why are antipsychotics used?

These medicines are used mainly to help treat mania and psychosis.

  • In bipolar disorder, they are used to treat manic symptoms, such as reckless and impulsive behavior. They are also used to help stabilize moods.
  • In schizophrenia, they can reduce or control delusions and hallucinations (psychosis). They are also used to reduce anxiety and agitation. They can reduce problems with thinking or remembering (cognitive impairment).
  • In borderline personality disorder, they are used to help treat symptoms of psychosis.
  • In depression, they may be used along with antidepressants.

What are the side effects of antipsychotic medicines for schizophrenia?

Antipsychotic medicines used for schizophrenia may cause side effects. Some side effects may be serious, such as:

  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome. This is a rare but life-threatening condition. The first signs usually include:
    • A fever of 102 F (38.9 C) to 103 F (39.4 C) .
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.
    • Rapid breathing.
    • Severe sweating.
  • Tardive dyskinesia. This is body movement that you can't control.
  • Type 2 diabetes. It might develop as a result of weight gain caused by some antipsychotics. Some antipsychotics may also increase insulin resistance.

Because of side effects or the risk of them, you may be tempted to stop using your medicine. But if you stop using it, the symptoms of schizophrenia may come back or get worse.

If you have any concerns about side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she may give you a smaller dose of the antipsychotic medicine. Or you might be able to try another antipsychotic medicine or another medicine to treat the side effect.

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