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What Is Perfenazine?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Perfenazine, also commonly spelled perphenazine, is a psychiatric medication used in the treatment of psychosis and agitation. This medication may be part of the treatment plan for a patient with schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and extreme agitation associated with other mental health disorders. It can also be used in the treatment of severe nausea and vomiting, including hyperemesis gravidarum, a potentially serious complication of pregnancy. Before taking this medication, a patient may need a careful screening for risk factors.

It acts in the brain to decrease excitement and agitation levels, which can stabilize a patient’s mood. Patients taking perfenazine may experience a reduction in the symptoms of mania or psychosis. This can allow them to engage safely in daily activities and to maintain long-term stability. People who do not respond may need to be treated with another medication; a range of drugs are available to manage these conditions and can be tried if initial therapy is not successful.

Drug interactions can occur while on this medication. These can include adverse interactions between this and other psychiatric medications. Those using it in combination therapy with another drug should make sure to follow directions and confirm with a care provider or pharmacist that a given combination is safe. People who need to take other medications while on perfenazine should make sure to discuss the medication in case there is a potential drug conflict that could interfere with the function of one or both drugs.

This medication can also affect a patient’s ability to regulate internal temperature, and may cause sensitivity to sunlight. Patients taking perfenazine may need to be careful when going outdoors, exercising, or engaging in heavy physical activity, because they could overheat and have trouble cooling down. Hot climates can increase these risks and it is important to have access to cool areas in the summer months in order to stay safe.

Older adults with symptoms of dementia cannot safely take perfenazine. They may react badly to the medication, which can increase the risk of death. In cases where dementia is severe enough to require medication, safer drugs are available to manage it with a lower risk of side effects. Pregnant patients taking perfenazine for mental health reasons should discuss this with their doctors to determine if they need to take any special precautions. As with other psychiatric drugs, it can become less potent over time and patients should call a care provider if they experience an increase in the intensity of symptoms or develop psychological distress.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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