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An Overview of Antipsychotic Medications and Harmful Side Effects

October 22, 2016 Drug Injuries

What are Antipsychotic Medications?

Antipsychotics are medications used to treat any of the disorders that cause psychosis—the medical term for conditions that affect the mind and cause a loss of contact with reality. They’re most commonly used to treat schizophrenia or mania and depression caused by bipolar disorder, but can be prescribed for severe depression or anxiety. Antipsychotics are available in tablets, capsules, liquids, and injections.

Antipsychotic medications are thought to work by altering the effects of chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters. Specifically, these medications focus on the chemicals that change and regulate behavior, mood, and emotions. They mostly affect dopamine, but can also affect serotonin, noradrenaline, and acetylcholine as well. Altering said chemicals can suppress or prevent the symptoms of psychosis, which include hallucinations (sights or sounds that don’t exist), delusions (thoughts that aren’t based on reality), disordered thinking, and extreme mood swings.

Types of Antipsychotic Medications

Patients prescribed antipsychotic medications must be prepared for a lot of trial and error; the first or second go at a specific medication might not be the perfect fit. For this reason, it’s crucial that patients communicate with their physician during the initial process of medicating.

First and Second Generation Antipsychotic Medications

There are two types of antipsychotic medication: first and second-generation. Both are thought to work equally well, but are believed to have slightly different side effects. The main distinction is when they were developed.

First-Generation Antipsychotics

First generation antipsychotics were developed around the 1950s, and remain in good use today. Examples include:

  • Chlorpromazine
  • Flupentixol
  • Haloperidol
  • Levomepromazine

Second-Generation Antipsychotics

Second-generation antipsychotics were developed more recently in the 1970s. They, too, remain in good use. Originally, it was thought that these types of medications had fewer side effects than their older counterparts, but this theory was later dismissed.  Examples of second-generation medications include:

  • Aripiprazole (brand name Abilify)
  • Amisulpride
  • Clozapine
  • Olanzapine

Side Effects of Antipsychotic Medications

Be sure to read the leaflet that comes with your prescription to make sure that you’re prepared. Some common side effects of antipsychotics can include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Flushing
  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight gain

In more severe cases, antipsychotic medication can cause movement disorders such as Parkinsonism (tremors, slow movement, and muscle stiffness), akathisia (restlessness), dystonia (muscle spasms), and tardive dyskinesia (involuntary repetitive movements). Other medications can be prescribed to control movement disorders.

As a note, second-gen antipsychotics are thought to be less likely to result in movement disorders. They do, however, have a comparatively increased risk of weight gain.

Abnormal Compulsive Side Effects with Abilify

For most individuals taking antipsychotics, their lives wouldn’t be the same without them; in fact, it’s not too far off to say that the meds saved their lives. While there are risks with all medications, individuals prescribed Abilify began developing brand new symptoms or behaviors never experienced before:

  • Compulsive gambling
  • Compulsive spending
  • Compulsive eating, excessive weight gain
  • Hyper sexuality
  • Theft

Luckily, these patients saw an end to their behaviors once they stopped taking Abilify, but the problem remains: Everyone taking Abilify should have been warned of this risk, and they weren’t—and therefore suffered life-changing consequences.

Abilify and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Lawsuits

While many have suffered, those same sufferers have fought back: Individuals negatively affected by the obsessive compulsive behaviors brought on by Abilify have taken legal action, filing lawsuits against Abilify’s manufacturers, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb, for compensation.

Abilify Lawsuits and Drug Injury Attorneys in Indianapolis

Anyone seeking a drug injury lawsuit is strongly encouraged to hire an experienced drug injury attorney—especially one local to where the injury occurred. Each state has varying laws and time limitations for filing drug injury lawsuits.

If you or a loved one developed obsessive compulsive behaviors while taking Abilify, contact the Indianapolis drug injury lawyers at Wilson Kehoe Winingham. Our injury attorneys have over 30 years of experience representing individuals harmed at the hands of someone else’s negligence. Get a hold of one of our attorneys at our Indianapolis office at 317.920.6400 or fill out an online form to receive your free case evaluation.

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