Amisulpride belongs to a group of antipsychotic tranquilizing drugs known as atypical antipsychotics. Generally used as a treatment for both chronic and acute schizophrenia, psychiatrists may also prescribe atypical antipsychotics to treat psychotic agitation, acute mania, chronic depression, and bipolar disorder. The drug functions by blocking dopamine 2 (D2) and dopamine 3 (D3) receptors in the brain. It may decrease or increase abnormal dopamine levels, but unlike other atypical antipsychotic medications, amisulpride does not regulate serotonin levels in the brain.
Dosages vary based on the type and severity of the disorder. Schizophrenic patients generally receive large doses, whereas those who suffer from depression often require small daily doses. The drug may effectively reduce symptoms in as little as one week, but some patients may not see a positive response to treatment for several months.
The drug is a helpful treatment for chronic schizophrenia in part because it is not habit forming. Although patients do not become addicted to the drug, doctors generally decrease dosages over several weeks because a psychotic relapse may otherwise occur. Rapid removal of the drug may worsen the preexisting psychotic symptoms as well.
Doctors may ask about a patient’s family history of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension because of the weight gain and increased appetite associated with amisulpride. Other common side effects include drowsiness, insomnia, anxiety, and constipation. Patients also may suffer from rarer side effects such as muscle spasms, trembling, slowness of movement, and excessive salivation. Extended use may cause unique symptoms in male and female patients. Women may experience menstrual changes, breast tenderness, and milk secretion, whereas breast enlargement and sexual dysfunction may occur in men after prolonged use.
Patients may receive amisulpride prescriptions alongside other psychiatric drug treatments. Psychiatrists also may prescribe supplementary drugs to counteract the side effects associated with amisulpride. For example, doctors may recommend benzotropine or trihexyphenidyl to improve a patient’s motor skill function. Negative drug interactions may occur if used in combination with medications such as quinidine, levodopa, thioridazone, and methadone.
People who suffer from certain ailments are not appropriate candidates for amisulpride treatment. Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis may be more susceptible to the drug’s side effects and could develop brain dysfunction issues. Cardiac impairments could worsen with the use of amisulpride, and patients with renal impairments may not have the ability to efficiently rid the body of the drug. The drug may be an inappropriate treatment for children and breastfeeding or pregnant women as well.