Antipsychotics and atypical antipsychotics are psychoactive drugs (drugs that act on the central nervous system and alter functions controlled by the brain) often used to treat people who are acting psychotic.  One of the uses of these drugs is to treat schizophrenia–a psychotic condition in which people sometimes hear voices others don’t hear, believe that others are broadcasting their thoughts to the world, or become convinced that others are plotting to harm them.

The drugs first used to treat psychosis were developed in the 1950’s and are called typical antipsychotics.  The more recently developed antipsychotic drugs are called atypical antipsychotics—meaning they act different than the typical antipsychotic drugs.
These drugs were developed because it is thought that too high a level of dopamine in particular areas of the brain can lead to psychosis.  Both typical and atypical antipsychotics are thought to block receptors in the brain’s dopamine pathways, which means that the dopamine released in the brain has less effect because there are fewer receptors.

The typical antipsychotics apparently block dopamine receptors in other parts of the brain and this has been associated with some undesired side effects.  Atypical antipsychotic drugs are alleged to be more selective in blocking the intended dopamine receptors and apparently some also block serotonin receptors.

Studies have shown that long-term treatment with antipsychotics can reduce the amount of gray and white matter in different brain areas.

Originally approved by the FDA as a treatment for people who are acting psychotic, they are now being used for many other uses:
• Anxiety
• Sleep disruption
• Mood swings
• Post-partum depression
• Autism
• Attention deficit hyperactivity
• Dementia

While it is not illegal for a doctor to prescribe these drugs for unapproved uses, it is against the law for the drug makers to promote unapproved uses to the doctors.  Many states are suing the makers of these drugs because of their promoting unapproved uses and their undisclosed side effects—like diabetes and weight gain.  Eli Lilly has paid over $750 million to settle lawsuits relating to Zyprexa® and faces more.

Some of the typical antipsychotics are:

Generic Name

chlorpromazine
haloperidol
fluphenazine
perphenazine
prochlorperazine
thioridazine
trifluoperazine
trifulpromazine
levomepromazine

Trade Name

Thorazine®
Haldol®
Prolixin®
Trilafon®
Compazine®
Mellaril®
Stelazine®
Vesprin®
Nozinan®

Some of the atypical antipsychotics are:

Generic Name

clozapine
risperidone
olanzapine
quetiapine
ziprasidone
aripiprazole
paliperidone

Trade Name

Clozaril®
Risperdal®
Zyprexa®
Seroquel®
Geodon®
Abilify®
Invega®

SIDE EFFECTS
The most common side effects are:
Akathisia (tingling feelings)
Dystonia (muscle spasms and abnormal posture)
• Tremor
• Sedation
• Dizziness
• Anxiety
• Blurred vision
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Upper abdominal pain
• stomach discomfort
• Dyspepsia  (Indigestion)
Diarrhea
• Constipation
• Dry Mouth
• Increased appetite
• Increased weight
• Fatigue
• Rashes
• Nasal congestion
• Upper respiratory tract infection
• Nasopharyngitis (common cold)