Antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptics or major tranquilizers, are a class of medications primarily used to manage the symptoms of various mental disorders, particularly psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These medications help alleviate symptoms like hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and agitation.
Antipsychotics work by affecting certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine. There are two main categories of antipsychotic medications:
- Typical Antipsychotics (First-generation antipsychotics or FGAs): These were the first antipsychotic medications developed. They primarily target dopamine receptors in the brain. Examples include haloperidol, chlorpromazine, and fluphenazine. They can be effective in reducing positive symptoms of psychosis (such as hallucinations and delusions), but they also have a higher risk of causing movement-related side effects, collectively known as extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS).
- Atypical Antipsychotics (Second-generation antipsychotics or SGAs): These medications are newer and have a broader mechanism of action, affecting various neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, and others. Examples include risperidone, olanzapine, quetiapine, aripiprazole, and clozapine. Atypical antipsychotics tend to have a lower risk of causing EPS, but they can still have side effects such as weight gain, metabolic issues, and increased risk of diabetes.
It’s important to note that while antipsychotics can be very effective in managing symptoms, they also come with potential side effects. Individuals taking these medications should be closely monitored by a healthcare professional to ensure that the benefits outweigh the risks.
If you or someone you know is considering or currently taking antipsychotic medications, it’s crucial to work closely with a mental health professional or doctor who can provide proper guidance, monitor for any side effects, and make adjustments to the treatment plan as needed.