In simple terms the word “psychosis” is indicative of a loss of touch with objective reality. An anti-psychotic is a medication that can help provide a bit of clarity in a situation where one’s own personal beliefs or perceptions are a bit confusing. They are most commonly prescribed to treat illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They are also helpful in managing several other conditions that include.
Aggression, impulsivity and agitation in many conditions that include dementia, autism and behavioral problems.
Depression and anxiety
Acute confusional states
To help with sleep disorders
If you have been prescribed an antipsychotic, please talk to your provider to understand how they think it will help you. This will go a long way in helping you understand your illness.
How do they work ?
All anti psychotics work by modulating the communication between nerves by influencing the release, attachment or re-absorption of a chemical messenger called dopamine. Dopamine is a “neuro transmitter”. An imbalance in dopamine are thought to cause psychological and physical symptoms of mental disorders like depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. By blocking or modulating the effect of dopamine of different areas of the brain anti-psychotics can improve reality orientation, reduce aggression, induce sleep, lift depression and/or improve anxiety.
How will I feel once I take them ?
Anti-psychotics begin working within a few hours of taking them. Your doctor will start you at the lowest dose and gradually build up to a dose that works. This may take a few weeks. Long standing illness may require a longer period of treatment to get better.
How long do I have to take them ?
This depends on the condition that you are going through and the reason why anti-psychotics are being prescribed. You should talk to your prescribing doctor to clarify the timeline and expected effects. The period may range from a few weeks to a few years.
What are the side effects ?
There are different kinds of anti psychotic medication with different sites of action. Some of the concerning side effects are as follows. All prescribed medication come with the possibility of causing some adverse effects. It is important to remember that this is a possibility and not certainty. In most people, the side effects are limited to mild and may not create much distress.
- Weight gain and increased appetite.
- Problems with movement of the body. (for example, shakiness, stiffness or cramps)
- Unexplained restlessness and an inability to sit in one place.
- Drowsiness (Causing sleepiness or low energy)
- Loss of menstrual periods
- Sexual problems.
- Changes in blood pressure.
If you experience any of the above to a point of discomfort reach out to your care provider immediately.
Further, your doctor will order blood work and an ECG to make sure the medication is safe for, make sure to discuss the results with your doctor. Some specific anti psychotics require special regular medical tests.
If you develop a fever, muscle spasms or feel ill, reach out to your doctor immediately.
It is important for one to be aware of side effects. However, this should not discourage you from taking treatment for your underlying issues. Address your fears with your treating physician before commencing treatment
Are antipsychotics addictive ?
NO. these mediccations do not have addictive qualities, you will not crave them nor will they give you a high. However, stopping them abruptly can be quite uncomfortable and may lead to a return of your previous symptoms. It is thus very important to follow your physicians instructions and take the medication as prescribed.