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General information

Risperidone is a medication which is classified as an antipsychotic and is predominantly used to treat mental health issues such as schizophrenia.

Other indications for the use of this medication includes bipolar mood disorder and to treat irritability associated with autism. Risperidone has also been shown to have beneficial effects against Tourette's syndrome and therapy resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder, although use for these indications is done so off-label.

How to use this medication

The general rule of thumb with most mental health disorder treatments, especially antipsychotics, is "start low and go slow". Oral use of risperidone is started at low dosages of 2-3mg per day in divided doses depending on its indication and adjusted according to patient response. The medication needs to be handled with care when removing it from its packaging and always needs to be handled with clean and dry hands.

Possible interactions

Risperidone should not be taken together with other medications that depress the central nervous system (CNS). These drugs would include the following:

  • Sedatives.
  • Tranquilizers such as diazepam or lorazepam.
  • Antihistamines (cold and flu medication).
  • Muscle relaxants.
  • Anaesthetic medication. If undergoing any surgical or dental procedure, then the doctor performing the procedure should be informed about use of this medication.

Precautions

Caution should also be exercised if patients are prescribed anticonvulsant medication. Risperidone doesn't have to be stopped, but the dosage should rather be adjusted accordingly. Your doctor should be made aware of this if they don't know in order to review your treatment.

Risperidone can also lower the patient's blood pressure and cause spikes in glucose levels so these should be monitored regularly at the initiation of therapy. Caution should then be heeded if the patient is on blood pressure lowering and even diabetic medication.

Side-effects

As with most medications, patients may experience side-effects when using them. A patient doesn't necessarily have to experience these effects, but it's always good to remain well informed about them.

If you experience any of the following issues while using risperidone, then you should inform the prescribing doctor about them as soon as possible.

  • Agitation.
  • Anxiety.
  • Aggressive behaviour.
  • Any changes in visions.
  • Difficulty speaking and/or swallowing.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Loss of control of balance.
  • Inability to move the eyes.
  • Problems with memory recall.
  • Problems with urination such as increased frequency and volume.
  • Shuffling gait.
  • Twitching movements.
  • Muscle spasms in the face and neck.
  • Stiffness and/or weakness of the limbs.
  • Tremors in the hands and fingers.
  • Restlessness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Mask like face/blunted affect. Here, your mood seems flat and neutral which is one of the effects of the medication.
If you experience signs and symptoms such as a high fever, altered mental status or coma, convulsions and muscle rigidity then you will have to be taken to an emergency room. The signs and symptoms could be characteristic of a medical emergency called neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Other generalized side-effects such as constipation, dry mouth, headache, heartburn, diarrhoea, nausea, sore throat, nasal congestion and slight fatigue are also common but tend to be self-limiting and resolve on their own.

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