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How does olanzapine work?

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Quick Answer

Olanzapine works by rebalancing the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which improves behavior, mood and thinking, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI. This medication is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and mania.

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Full Answer

Olanzapine is classified as a second-generation antipsychotic, or SGA, and it is an atypical antipsychotic medication. It is the generic form of the drug sold under the brand names Zyprexa, which is available in tablets ranging from 2.5 to 20 milligrams, orally disintegrating tablets ranging in dosages from 5 milligrams to 20 milligrams and an injectable 10-milligram vial. It is also sold in extended-release format for injection under the brand name Zyprexa Relprevv in doses from 150 to 405 milligrams, as noted by NAMI.

Some of the symptoms of schizophrenia that this medication may treat include imagined voices or images and other hallucinations, trouble speaking clearly, lack of motivation and reduced desire to be around people. It is indicated for use and approved by the United States Federal Drug Administration for use in treating manic disorder, bipolar disorder and mixed episodes, as reported by NAMI. It is also indicated for use in maintenance treatment of bipolar disorder and acute treatment of schizophrenia. Typical dosage is once daily with potential increases in dosages slowly over the first few weeks of treatment.

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