Antipsychotic medication refers to medicine that specifically aims to reduce or relieve common symptoms of psychosis. These symptoms include delusions (irrational beliefs) and hallucinations (sensing things that do not exist). These medicines usually help the patient calm down within hours, but may take upwards of a few days for more acute cases of psychosis.
Antipsychotic medications are the main class of drugs used to treat people that regularly experience psychotic episodes, such as people with schizophrenia, severe bipolar disorder or depression, and those with degenerative brain conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease.
These medicines are not used to cure psychosis, as they cannot treat the underlying causes of psychosis. Also, these medicines can have undesirable side-effects depending on the body chemistry of the person taking them. This means the effectiveness of these medicines may vary from person to person.
To fully utilize its benefits, antipsychotic medications should be used in conjunction with other therapy and support systems to help the patient cope with his/her condition. Good mental and physical health can go a long way in achieving personal goals, and should never be taken for granted.
Is Treatment For Psychosis Really Necessary?
For the average person, going through psychosis may be an unimaginable experience. However, to those who do experience psychotic episodes, the feeling can be dangerous, frightening, debilitating, and disorienting at the same time.
Over time, when a person regularly experiences psychosis, it can negatively affect the different aspects of their life. If not kept in check, psychosis can ruin relationships and opportunities for those who experience it. What’s worse, they can be oblivious to the fact that they’re experiencing it in the first place.
When it comes to treating psychosis, early detection and treatment are important in helping the patient cope with their condition. That’s why if you want the best for your loved one, it’s important to constantly look out for each other.
How Does Antipsychotic Medication Work?
There are many theories as to what the causes of psychosis are. Generally, it is believed that overactivity in the brain via the chemical dopamine causes people to sense things that are not necessarily there.
Antipsychotics try to inhibit this overactivity by blocking the effects of dopamine. This blocking alleviates the symptoms of psychosis but does not entirely make them go away.
People who take antipsychotic medication may not be entirely healed, but it can help the person get a better grasp of their situation and increase the likelihood of recognizing what is real and what is just in their minds.
The Possible Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medication
Although antipsychotics may help a person cope with their problem, when not monitored and corrected early, antipsychotics may cause worrying side effects. This is especially true for those who have been prescribed higher dosage treatments.
Here are some of the known side effects of antipsychotics:
- Involuntary movement: involuntary muscle spasms or tremors
- Muscle stiffness: inability to move due to cramps or stiff muscles
- Dizziness: disorienting feeling due to loss of balance
- Weight gain: increased weight gain even when there’s no change in diet
- Diabetes: a blood sugar problem
- Agitation: the feeling of constantly needing to move or talk
- Sedation: the feeling of being constantly tired
- Tardive dyskinesia: an uncommon but permanent condition wherein a person experiences involuntary movements
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome: a rare condition that has symptoms such as fevers, muscle stiffness, and deliriousness
Of course, the dosage of the antipsychotics taken as well as the type of medication directly affects the severity of these symptoms. This also doesn’t factor in other medicines the patient might be taking and any other medical/mental conditions they experience at the same time.
How to Minimize the Side Effects of Antipsychotics
Although most side effects will go away once you stop taking the medicine, many patients may have no choice but to take them regularly to cope with their condition. This is why proper monitoring, honest feedback, and research can go a long way in managing the side effects of antipsychotics.
A lot of antipsychotics have information online regarding the history of side effects experienced by former and current patients while taking them. If you’re still unsure, you can consult medical professionals regarding which medicines are best suited for you considering their medical history.
The right exercise and the right diet can also help significantly lower the risk of medical conditions caused by antipsychotics. For example, eating a low-sugar, high-fiber diet can help reduce the likeliness of getting diabetes or excessive weight gain.
The Two Categories of Antipsychotic Medication
Antipsychotics are generally divided into two categories, typical (first generation) antipsychotics and atypical (second generation) antipsychotics.
Typical antipsychotics are the older generation of medicines that work by blocking dopamine as in the body. Atypical antipsychotics, on the other hand, block dopamine in conjunction with increasing serotonin levels, generally lessening the severity of the side-effects experienced by the patients.
Though both generations of antipsychotics work equally as well as the other, the effectivity still depends on the patient taking them. A drug effective for one person may not be effective for the other, regardless of the generation.
These drugs are generally in tablet or liquid form and can have long-lasting versions that last a few days to a few weeks.
First Generation (Typical) Antipsychotics
These older medications are as effective as their newer counterparts and include chlorpromazine (more commonly known as Largactil), flupenthixol (Fluanxol), afluphenazine (Modecate), haloperidol (Haldol), loxapine (Loxapac), perphenazine (Trilafon), pimozide (Orap), trifluoperazine (Stelazine), thiothixene (Navane) and zuclopenthixol (Clopixol).
Though their side-effects may vary from drug to drug, they include drowsiness, agitation, dry mouth, blurry vision, dizziness, weight gain, involuntary muscle movement, stuffy nose, and constipation among other things.
Second Generation (Atypical) Antipsychotics
These newer forms of antipsychotics are now the more common kind prescribed to patients as they have been shown to cause less severe side effects while staying about as effective as their older counterparts.
These medicines are also unofficially used by people as a treatment for mood and other disorders. These include anxiety disorders, bipolar, posttraumatic stress (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive (OCD).
By providing specialized care for your condition at Roots Through Recovery, we can ensure the best possible care. You can learn more by visiting our mental health treatment center in South Bay located at at 3939 Atlantic Ave, Suite 102 Long Beach, CA 90807 or calling us at (866) 766-8776.
Disclaimer: This post serves a strictly educational use. It does not necessarily reflect the services, products, or therapeutic approaches of this establishment or its healthcare practitioners. The purpose of this blog is not to advertise the products, services, or therapeutic approaches of any other establishment that may be associated with this site. On the subject of safe or legal services, products, and appropriate therapies, recommendations ought to be given by a qualified professional on a case to case basis.
Antipsychotic medication works by either blocking dopamine in the body (first-generation antipsychotics) or blocking dopamine and increasing serotonin in the body (second-generation antipsychotics.
These medicines, although effective, need proper monitoring as it can have different side effects from person to person. To learn more about psychosis, treatment, and proper medication, you can check out our Addiction Recovery Blog to learn more for you or your loved one.