Also known as Second-generation antipsychotics, the Atypical Antipsychotic drug is a class of drugs used to treat psychiatric symptoms, especially Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder. Being a newer generation of drugs, atypical antipsychotic drugs are found to be more effective than the first-generation drugs. More importantly, they are found to have lesser extrapyramidal side effects. Extrapyramidal effects are movement inducing side effects, including parkinsonism, Akathisia (restlessness of the legs), Tardive dyskinesia (rhythmic, involuntary movements), etc, which are caused by the intake of the first generation antipsychotic drugs. Atypical antipsychotic drugs work by blocking the receptors in the brain’s dopamine pathway. Dopamine is one of the most important chemicals associated with symptoms like hallucinations, mood swings, delusions, etc. By blocking these chemicals, the symptoms also recede.
Atypical Antipsychotics Drugs
Major drugs approved by the FDA in this class include:
Atypical Antipsychotics Uses
The atypical antipsychotics are used in the treatment of following mental illnesses:
- Schizophrenia: The positive symptoms of psychosis, including hallucinations and delusions are treated effectively with antipsychotics.
- Bipolar disorder: People having acute mania as well as mixed episodes, benefit with atypical antipsychotics. The drug is especially helpful in treating mood swings.
- Severe depression and severe anxiety
Atypical Antipsychotics Side Effects
The atypical antipsychotics are believed to have lesser side effects than the typical ones, and this is why, they are the first line of treatment to be used. However, this does not mean that there are no side effects at all. Atypical antipsychotic drugs may result in:
- Weight gain: Although not every patient gains weight, it is one of the most common side effects of taking these drugs. One should keep a track of his/her weight and follow a well-balanced diet while taking medicines.
- Feeling drowsy: High dose of the drug usually results in the feeling of drowsiness. Decreasing the dose generally solves this problem.
- Constipation, dry mouth,and a blurred vision are also common when a person starts off with the medication. These symptoms usually fade out with time.
Atypical Antipsychotics Interactions
The intake of atypical antipsychotic drugs results in metabolic risks including weight gain. This weight gain poses further problems, including the risk of diabetes. It is, therefore, imperative that the person incorporates lifestyle changes aimed at controlling weight and creating a healthy body.
- Diet and exercise: The first and most important action is to start exercising and take a well-balanced diet. A dietitian’s advice may prove highly beneficial to help fight against other problems like constipation or irregular bowel movements. Inclusion of a high soluble fiber diet and omega three fish oils is highly beneficial.
- Stop smoking: Smoking cessation also proves to help the health condition of a patient taking antipsychotic medicines.
- Reducing alcohol intake: Limiting alcohol has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, which in turn, improves the overall health of a person.
Warning: Antipsychotic drugs are not prescribed to people who are in a coma, have a depression of the central nervous system or have a tumor of the adrenal gland.