Similar to the symptoms and health they are used to treat antipsychotic drugs. Here are nine things you should know about this strong class of drugs.
. 1 Antipsychotics are used to treat a psychic phenomenon called psychosis.
A Period of Psychosis, Psychotic Episode is a mental condition in which a person's thinking is so distorted that it is detached from reality, according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH ). Someone suffering from psychosis has difficulty understanding the real and usually experiences delusions (misconceptions) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there). Other symptoms include incoherent language, inappropriate behavior and general difficulty.
Psychosis itself is not a condition, but a set of symptoms that can occur in many different scenarios Dolores Malaspina MD, MSPH, Professor and Director of the Psychosis Program in the Department of Psychiatry the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, reported SELF. "Everyone can have a psychotic episode," she explains. Although this may be due to mental states that we will discuss shortly, this may also be due to problems with substance dependence or severe sleep deprivation, NIMH
2. Antipsychotics are often prescribed to people with schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that distorts the thinking, feelings and behavior of humans after the NIMH . Persistent psychosis is one of the main symptoms of this disease; someone must experience psychotic symptoms for at least six months before receiving schizophrenia diagnosis, according to NIMH
. Antipsychotics are the pharmacological frontline therapy of schizophrenia according to the Mayo Clinic . They are normally used as a maintenance medication, meaning that they are taken daily according to the Administration for Drug Abuse and Psychiatric Care (SAMHSA) (SAMHSA) a month.
. 3 They are also commonly prescribed in people with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic fluctuations in mood and energy. In these periods, called episodes of mood, psychosis may occur according to NIMH . Unlike schizophrenia, not everyone who suffers from bipolar disorder suffers from psychosis – however, if there is a depressive or manic episode, psychosis can develop.
Sometimes, people with bipolar disorder may indefinitely take antipsychotics, but more often they are used to treat symptoms when needed, Dr. Malaspina. This is usually in combination with a maintenance medication such as a mood stabilizer according to the Mayo Clinic . "Later, when they feel better, they can stop taking antipsychotics – maybe after a few weeks or a month." Descartes Li MD, a clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and director of the Bipolar Disorder Program at the University of California, San Francisco, tells SELF.
. 4 Antipsychotics help people cope with symptoms by affecting neurotransmitters such as dopamine.
These drugs do not provide cure for disease, Malaspina explains. The goal is to reduce symptoms and improve a person's quality of life. They do so mainly by blocking the activity of a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is thought to play a role in psychosis when levels in the brain are too high. Malaspina. (Some antipsychotics affect additional neurotransmitters, which we will discuss below.)
Antipsychotics begin to treat some symptoms like hallucinations within a few days, but it usually takes a few weeks for the delusions to end. NIMH . (While preventing them from developing new delusions relatively quickly, it takes a while for the old ones to fade, says Dr. Malaspina.) According to the full effects may not be visible for up to six weeks] NIMH . How long the person takes the medication depends on their underlying condition and other factors. "It's quite individualized in terms of the duration of treatment," says Malaspina.
. 5 There are two general types of antipsychotics:
Typical antipsychotics, also called first generation antipsychotics, according to NIMH seem to mainly affect dopamine.
The Newer Class Known as atypical antipsychotics (or second-generation antipsychotics), they also have an effect on dopamine, but they have a broader spectrum of action, according to NIMH (19459049). "The new ones have different effects on many different neurotransmitters, not just dopamine," says Dr. Li.
6. Because atypical antipsychotics affect neurotransmitters beyond dopamine, they can also be used to treat other things than psychoses.
In addition to dopamine, atypical antipsychotics may also affect mood-affecting neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and others. Li explains. This means that different SGAs can actually work quite differently. "It's a bit harder to anticipate what they're going to do because they are not that consistent," says Dr. Li.
This makes them less predictable than typical antipsychotics, but also makes them more versatile. For example, they can be used to treat depression that has not been completely treated by antidepressants, according to NIMH . "Atypical antipsychotics also have some mood-stabilizing properties, so some people with bipolar disorder – although they do not have psychosis – can handle it very well [as a maintenance treatment]," explains Dr. Li.
Atypical antipsychotics are also prescribed off-label in combination with other treatments to treat the symptoms of a variety of other psychiatric and behavioral disorders, Dr. Malaspina. These include dementia anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder and eating disorders according to . NIMH .
. 7 Typical and atypical antipsychotics can cause different side effects.
Both typical and atypical antipsychotics often cause side effects such as somnolence, dizziness, blurred vision, constipation, nausea and vomiting according to NIMH . These often go away. However, the medications can also cause serious long-term side effects.
Typical antipsychotics tend to cause more neurological side effects that affect bodily movements, such as muscle stiffness, seizures, tremor tics, and restlessness, according to NIMH . The most serious possible complication is a disorder referred to as tardive dyskinesia (TD), which can cause involuntary movements of the eyes, face and hands, facial grimaces, a quick blinking eye and a finger-playing piano play. The longer a person is on a typical antipsychotic, the more likely he is to develop it, according to US. National Library of Medicine . Sometimes it disappears when the drug dosage drops, but sometimes it stays.
Although tardive dyskinesia may occur in atypical antipsychotics, it is believed to be quite rare according to NIMH . According to NIMH atypical antipsychotics may cause more metabolic side effects than typical antipsychotics, such as increased weight and blood sugar levels, potentially increasing the risk of developing health problems such as type 2 diabetes . It seems that atypical antipsychotics do this by affecting things like appetite level and metabolism .
. 8 If you are taking these medications, you must be closely monitored for side effects and persistent symptoms of psychosis.
"It's not something you start with [a patient] and then leave it on … until it reappears a year later, Li says.
If you are on a typical antipsychotic, your doctor should be alert for signs of TD or other motor problems. "You have to address [TD] as soon as possible because it could become permanent," says Dr. Malaspina.
If you are taking an atypical antipsychotic, your psychiatrist should order regular blood tests to keep track of all metabolic problems, which may develop like the high blood sugar of NIMH . They may also refer you to a specialist who can prescribe treatments to treat such complications (eg medicines to combat insulin resistance), Malaspina says.
For both typical and atypical antipsychotics, your doctor wants to keep control of how effectively the drug treats your symptoms, both at the beginning and throughout the treatment. It may take some time and experiment with various antipsychotics to land on which to work best, says NIMH .
. 9 The safety of the use of antipsychotics during pregnancy is unclear, therefore, should be discussed with your doctor.
There is concern that the use of antipsychotics during pregnancy can lead to birth defects, especially during the first trimester and in addition to other medications NIMH . However, this has not been well studied, so the risks and benefits of using the medicine during pregnancy should be discussed with your doctor. In many cases, the risks of discontinuing medication could be more damaging to a person's physical and mental health than taking it.
NIMH notes that most research focused on haloperidol, a typical, antipsychotic drug that actually causes no defects. Scientists are still studying the safety of atypical antipsychotics during pregnancy.
If you are pregnant or planning to take antipsychotics, you and your doctor should weigh the potential costs and benefits, then tailor your treatment plan to fit.