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Chronic disability due to schizophrenia is a common problem among young adults. This mental illness affects about one percent of the population, and treatment often involves the use of antipsychotic medications, which help reduce schizophrenia symptoms and improve their mental and social functioning.
Antipsychotic Drugs for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a severe, chronic, disabling mental disorder that affects many young adults. It manifests with symptoms related to bizarre thought processes, impaired mental functioning, and inability to interact or take care of themselves.
Schizophrenia includes symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, violent outbursts, and substance abuse, which often pose difficult challenges to the patients’ families and the society. Approximately one percent of the American population is affected by this mental disorder, and its burden to society is related to problems in employment, relationships, and personal independence. Aside from these, schizophrenics are also prone to substance abuse, obesity, and other medical problems related to their inability to care for themselves.
Typical Antipsychotic Drugs:
- Haloperidol (Haldol)
- Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
- Perphenazine (Trilafon, Etrafon)
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs:
- Risperidone (Risperdal)
- Clozapine (Clozaril)
- Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
- Paliperidone (Invega)
- Ziprasidone (Geodon)
- Quetiapine (Seroquel)
- Aripiprazole (Abilify)
These medications reduce the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, which consist of hallucinations, delusions and disorganized behavior and speech. They also help reduce violent or aggressive behavior, suicidal tendencies, and help prevent relapses and hospital re-admission.
Antipsychotic drugs are often given for long-term use and they are believed to improve the quality of life of patients, increase their independence, and enhance their productivity.
Common Side Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs
Typical antipsychotic medications work by blocking so-called dopaminergic receptors, which influence the appearance of symptoms typical of schizophrenia. However, they may also affect other neurotransmitter systems, which lead to undesirable side effects.
Common side effects associated with typical antipsychotics include movement disorders such as tremors, restlessness, and rigidity. Unusual, uncontrollable movements of the body, such as lip-smacking and jerky head movements are severe manifestations of movement problems associated with antipsychotics. Other side effects include dry mouth, problems in urination, constipation, visual disturbances, dizziness, nasal congestion, and disturbances of sexual function.
In addition, antipsychotics may alter hormonal function, leading to cessation of menstruation, spontaneous production of breast milk, and enlargement of male breasts.