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Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia and schizophrenia-related disorders are prescribed antipsychotic medications and may have to deal with side effects of antipsychotics. Most of these medications are relatively new, having been introduced a little more than fifty years ago. These are the “typical” antipsychotic drugs like Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Haldol (haloperidol), Perphenazine and fluphenazine.
A new generation of drugs was introduced in the 1990s. These are referred to as “atypical” antipsychotics and include Clozaril (clozapine), Risperdal (risperidone), Zyprexa (olanzapine), Seroquel (quetiapine), Geodon (ziprasidone), Abilify (aripiprazole), and Invega (paliperidone).
There are side effects of antipsychotics. Clozapine has a unique side effect called agranulocytosis which is the loss of white blood cells. Since white blood cells help prevent infection, this is a cause for concern and requires frequent blood tests to make sure the patient is not in danger. Other antipsychotics do not have this condition associated with it.
A lot of people experience side effects of antipsychotics as they acclimate to the new drugs. These go away. When side effects of antipsychotics do not go away, it is time to talk to the doctor. Side effects of antipsychotics may include drowsiness, dizziness when changing positions, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, sensitivity to the sun, skin rashes and, for women, menstrual irregularity. Weight gain is also typical and can be a side effects of antipsychotics effect as a person’s metabolism changes. This increases risk of diabetes and high cholesterol. Therefore, weight, glucose levels, and lipid levels should be tested regularly.
Some other side effects of antipsychotics include rigidity, persistent muscle spasm, tremors and restlessness. Occasionally long-term use of typical antipsychotic meds may lead to tardive dyskinesia or TD. This causes muscle movements a person can’t control usually around the mouth. Sometimes this condition will end, in full or part, when a person stops taking the medication. The condition happens less frequently to those taking the atypical medications.
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
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