Typical antipsychotic medications treat schizophrenia and schizophrenia-related disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Thorazine and Haldol are antipsychotic medications developed and used for these purposes in the 1950s. Second-generation drugs developed in the 1990’s, called atypical antipsychotics, include Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel, Clozaril and Zyprexa.
Antipsychotic medications typically alleviate common symptoms of schizophrenia, such as feelings of agitation and hallucinations, within days; delusions may require a few weeks before providing relief, explains the National Institute of Mental Health. Most patients notice dramatic improvement after six weeks of antipsychotic treatment. Common side effects of antipsychotics include blurred vision, rapid heart rate, dizziness and photosensitivity. Women may have difficulties with menstrual cycles, and people often experience drowsiness and skin rashes. Most side effects cease within a few days.
Atypical antipsychotic medications often interfere with a patient’s metabolism, resulting in excessive weight gain and putting them at risk for diabetes and high cholesterol, explains NIMH. Physical movement may also be impaired in patients using typical antipsychotics, evidenced as tremors, rigidity and frequent muscle spasms. Tardive dyskinesia, or TD, is a condition caused by long-term atypical antipsychotic use in which patients lack control over muscle movements, commonly in the mouth area. This condition strikes approximately 5 percent of individuals using typical antipsychotics, and while some patients recover fully upon discontinuation of the drugs, others never recover. TD is less common in patients taking the newer, atypical antipsychotics.