Types Of Schizophrenia Medications

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If someone is suffering with the so called positive symptoms associated with Schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions, they are likely to be prescribed anti-psychotic medication in order to control the symptoms.

As with all medications, antipsychotics can carry some unpleasant side effects although the newer types of antipsychotics are believed to be less likely to result in severe side effects, particularly involuntary movements of the face and body.

In the past, the so called typical or traditional antipsychotics included drugs such as chlorpromazine, flupenthixol, fluphenazine and haloperidol. The side effects associated with these older types of antipsychotics include muscle stiffness, tremors, restlessness, sexual dysfunction and in some people, Tardive Dyskinesia or TD for short.

TD can be described as involuntary, repetitive and purposeless movements often affecting the face, tongue and lips but sometimes other parts of the body too. For example, constant lip smacking, tongue protrusion, grimacing, blinking etc.

These older medicines first appeared in the mid 1950’s and they worked by altering the activity of a chemical in the brain called Dopamine. More recently, in the last decade or so, they have recently been more or less replaced by newer ‘atypical’ antipsychotics which include:

•    Amisulpride
•    Olanzapine
•    Risperidone
•    Clozapine
•    Quetiapine
•    Aripiprazole
•    Zotepine

The side effects most often reported with the newer type of medicines include drowsiness, sexual dysfunction and weight gain. There is also some evidence of a higher risk of developing diabetes. In high doses involuntary movements are still possible. Each drug will also produce its own side effects so you should check the leaflets for a full description of all known side effects and speak to your doctor if you are worried.

These newer types of antipsychotics work on many different chemical messengers in the brain and have proved quite effective in controlling Schizophrenia. One type in particular, Clozapine, appears to work quite well for people who do not respond to other types of medication and is also believed to reduce the risk of suicide, which is already high in people suffering from Schizophrenia.

However, we all respond to medication in different ways and what might suit one individual may not suit another. Therefore if you are already taking an older type antipsychotic and it is causing no problems, there is no need to change and it may be that you have to try several different drugs before finding one that works for you.

Sometimes an individual who is taking medication for Schizophrenia will stop taking it, maybe because they find the side effects too unpleasant, or they believe they are well again and no longer need them, or perhaps because their thinking is so disorganised they forget to take them. Unfortunately if this happens the hallucinations and delusions are likely to return. If this is the case, it may be possible for a doctor to give the medication by long term injection.

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