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What Are Typical Neuroleptics?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Typical neuroleptics are drugs that are prescribed to treat psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. Also called typical antipsychotics, or conventional antipsychotics, these medications may also be prescribed for other conditions, such as Tourette's disorder, severe behavioral disorders, and bipolar disorder. They work by acting on the brain to regulate certain chemicals. Some examples of these types of antipsychotic drugs include haloperidol and chlorpromazine. Typical neuroleptics tend to have the potential for severe side effects, so patients should discuss these risks with their doctors before undergoing treatment.

Patients should follow dosage instructions carefully, and consult their doctors before they decide to stop taking the drug. The doctor may initially prescribe a low dose, to be increased gradually as needed. During his treatment, the patient should discuss his symptoms with the doctor so that the efficacy of the dosage of the drug can be assessed. Typical neuroleptics cannot cure psychiatric disorders, so if the patient decides to stop taking the drug, his symptoms will return.

Severe extrapyramidal symptoms can result from taking typical neuroleptics. These types of side effects affect the patient's nerves and muscles. For example, the patient may experience tremors, slow speech, and slow movement. Acute dystonia may occur, which presents with abnormal muscle spasms. Typical neuroleptics may also result in permanent tardive dyskinesia, which causes the patient to engage in involuntary, repetitive movements.

Patients should always tell their doctors promptly about any side effects they experience with the use of antipsychotic drugs. Other possible side effects may include insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and a “foggy” mind. Lethargy, nausea, and vomiting, along with diarrhea or constipation may also occur. Other patients have reported menstrual abnormalities, which may be indicative of unusually high prolactin levels, and may increase the risk of infertility, osteoporosis, and breast cancer.

Symptoms of a possible overdose can include stiff muscles, slowed breathing, and sleepiness. Loss of consciousness may also occur. Patients who believe they have taken too much of their medication should receive medical attention as soon as possible.

Before taking a typical neuroleptic to treat a psychiatric disorder, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. These drugs may cause birth defects, so women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should discuss this with a doctor. Typical neuroleptics may be contraindicated for use by those with Parkinson's disease, prolonged QT syndrome, and glaucoma. They may interact with other medicines, including sedatives, sleeping pills, and blood thinners.

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