What are Antipsychotics?
Antipsychotics are medications used to treat certain types of mental disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (or manic depression). These medications can also be used to treat anxiety and forms of depressions. Antipsychotics can help patients think clearly, dispel hallucinations and delusions, and prevent extreme mood swings.
Antipsychotics work by influencing a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine, which is believed to be at the root of schizophrenia. Hallucinations and delusions are believed to be caused by a hyperactive dopamine system, and these medications work to improve the mood and feelings of patients without making them feel drowsy.
Examples of common antipsychotic medications include:
Unfortunately, antipsychotic medications have a litany of side effects, some more serious than others. Common side effects of most antipsychotic drugs include:
- Dry mouth
- Weight gain
- Muscle spasms
- Blurred vision
Dangers Associated with Antipsychotic Medications
Antipsychotic drugs have been linked to several life-altering and potentially dangerous conditions.
The antipsychotic medications Risperdal and Seroquel have been linked to causing gynecomastia in children and adults. Gynecomastia is the abnormal growth of breast tissue in males, which oftentimes requires multiple surgeries to remove the masses.
Antipsychotic medications can cause tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder that is incurable and permanent and tends to worsen over time. The disorder causes the involuntary, abnormal movements of the face, eyes, mouth, or tongue. Other parts of the body such as the neck, torso, and extremities may also be involved. Another similar disorder, tardive akathisia, causes painful neurological sensations.
Some antipsychotic medications have been linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndromes, including diabetes.
In April 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandated that antipsychotic drug manufacturers include a black box warning due to the increase in death in patients with dementia. According to the FDA, there was an overall 1.6 to 1.7 times increase in deaths, mostly due to heart-related events or infections. Currently, there are no antipsychotic drugs approved for patients with dementia.
The manufacturers of these drugs oftentimes do not provide a clear enough warning to consumers. Pharmaceutical companies have been fined by the United States government and brought to court many times, but they continue to put profit before your safety.