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What is Asenapine?

By J.M. Densing
Updated May 17, 2024
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Asenapine is an antipsychotic medication used to treat bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, and schizophrenia. It is not known exactly how it works in the body, but it seems to affect the actions of certain substances in the brain. Also known by the brand name Saphris, it is available as a sublingual tablet that is placed under the tongue and allowed to dissolve. It should not be used by patients with severe liver problems, an irregular heartbeat, or who are taking certain medications such as other psychoactive drugs; as such, individuals should be sure to discuss their complete medical history with a heathcare professional. Asenapine can cause a variety of side effects including indigestion, weight gain, dizziness, and sleep difficulties.

The two psychological illnesses that asenapine is approved to treat are bipolar disorder, especially the manic phase, and schizophrenia, which are both serious problems which dramatically affect a patient's everyday life. Bipolar disorder is distinguished by alternating periods of crushing depression and euphoric excitement known as a manic phase. Schizophrenia is characterized by disturbed, disordered thoughts and emotions. The exact mechanism of action asenapine takes in treating these disorders isn't confirmed, but it seems to affect the functions of certain chemicals in the brain. Asenapine is administered as a sublingual tablet dissolved under the tongue, usually twice a day, and should taken as directed even if symptoms appear to be under control.

Patients who are allergic to any of the ingredients in asenapine should not be taking the drug. Individuals with low blood potassium or magnesium, severe liver problems, or slow or irregular heartbeat as well as those on antiarrhythmic or identified antipsychotic medications should also avoid using it. There are also many other conditions that require extra caution including diabetes, pregnancy, dehydration, heart or liver problems, certain cancers, and high blood pressure. It's important for the patient to discuss his or her complete medical history with the doctor to prevent drug interactions or serious complications.

There are many possible side effects of asenapine. Some of the more ones include numbness of the lips or mouth, dry mouth, altered sense of taste, increased appetites, indigestion, vomiting, weight gain, fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, irritability, nervousness, depression, sleep difficulties, pain in the joints and limbs, and sexual issues. There are also a few more serious side effects which require medical attention as soon as possible such as fever, confusion, seizures, difficulty swallowing, stiffness of the muscles, uncontrollable movements, sweating, and rapid or irregular heartbeat. Asenapine can cause elevated glucose levels so patients should also be alert for symptoms of high blood sugar. They should also avoid overheating because the medicine makes it hard for the body to cool down.

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