Schizophrenia and Antipsychotics
Atypical Antipsychotics for Schizophrenia
In the 1990s, new drugs were developed that rarely produced these side effects. The first of these atypical antipsychotics was clozapine (Clozaril®). Clozapine was introduced in 1990. It treats psychotic symptoms effectively even in people who do not respond to other medications.
Although this drug can produce a serious problem called agranulocytosis (a loss of the white blood cells that fight infection), it is the drug of choice for those whose symptoms do not respond to the other antipsychotic medications, old or new.
Some of the antipsychotics that were developed after clozapine are both effective and may be less likely to cause extrapyramidal symptoms or agranulocytosis. These medications include:
- Aripiprazole (Abilify®)
- Asenapine (Saphris®)
- Iloperidone (Fanapt™)
- Lurasidone (Latuda®)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa®)
- Paliperidone (Invega®)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel®, Seroquel XR®)
- Risperidone (Risperdal®)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon®).
While these medications may be less likely to cause extrapyramidal symptoms or agranulocytosis, they can cause weight gain, which increases the risk of diabetes and high cholesterol, together known as metabolic syndrome.
Results of Treating Schizophrenia With AntipsychoticsPeople respond individually to antipsychotic medication, although agitation and hallucinations usually improve within days, and delusions within a few weeks. Many people see substantial improvement in both types of symptoms by the sixth week of schizophrenia treatment.
No one can tell beforehand exactly how an antipsychotic medication will affect a particular individual, and sometimes several medications must be tried before the right one is found.