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What Is Chlorpromazine?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Long
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Chlorpromazine hydrochloride is a prescription anti-psychotic medication. It is primarily used to treat a mental illness or psychotic disorder such as schizophrenia, severe Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and symptoms of manic depression. This medication is sometimes also prescribed to treat nausea that occurs as a side effect of other medications and to relieve pre-surgical anxiety.

This drug falls into the category of first generation anti-psychotic medications called phenothiazines. Early uses, dating back to 1947, were primarily for antihistamine needs. It was during this time that doctors discovered the sedation effects the medication had on patients. By the middle 1960s, this drug had almost completely replaced electroshock therapy in psychiatric patients.

The exact function of chlorpromazine is not known. Research has shown that it works to reduce the effects of dopamine produced by the body. Many researchers theorized that several psychotic conditions are triggered by the brain’s overactive production of dopamine, so by blocking this chemical the symptoms may be controlled.

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Chlorpromazine has several common side effects including dry mouth, drowsiness, and weight gain that may occur, as well as a slower response to heat or cold. Swelling in the breasts, feet, or hands are additional side effects. These common side effects, if they occur, will usually subside in a few weeks as the body becomes acclimated to the chemical adjustments.. Patients taking this medication may not experience all effects, and the dose strength has a large influence as well. If the problems persist, the prescribing physician may need to adjust the dose.

Twitching, drooling, seizures, and suicidal thoughts are serious side effects. Patients may also experience rare side effects such as difficulty breathing, changes in heart rate, and trouble swallowing. If any of these side effects occur, or there are any others that are noticed and are severe, immediate medical attention is necessary to prevent permanent damage or death.

This medication is not ideal for everyone. People with psychotic conditions related to dementia should not take this medication because it can lead to heart failure and sudden death. People with brain damage, kidney or liver disease, or heart disease should tell the prescribing physician these conditions exist.

Chlorpromazine can cause bad reactions with other medications. It is important to notify the physician of all prescriptions, over the counter medications, and herbal medications that are being taken. This medication is known to cause adverse reactions with barbiturates and other anti-psychotic medications. It may also reduce the effectiveness of some synthetic antibiotic treatments.

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