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What Is Perphenazine?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Perphenazine is a drug prescribed to treat some mental disorders, such as schizophrenia. It may also alleviate symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder who are experiencing manic episodes. Sometimes, a doctor may also prescribe it to patients with severe, persistent nausea and vomiting. Perphenazine is a conventional antipsychotic that affects chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine, to help restore mental balance.

This drug is typically taken one to four times daily, with or without food. Patients may begin treatment at a low dose. The doctor will monitor their responses to the drug and can adjust the dosage as needed. Four to six weeks of treatment may be needed before the full effect of the drug can be seen. Patients are advised not to abruptly discontinue taking perphenazine, because it can cause withdrawal effects, such as nausea, stomach pain, and shakiness.

Some side effects may occur from the use of perphenazine, which should be reported to the prescribing physician if they become bothersome or persistent. Dizziness, drowsiness, and cold symptoms, such as a stuffy nose and headache may occur. Some patients may experience loss of appetite, blurred vision, or a narrowing or widening of the pupils.

Perphenazine may also cause more serious side effects, which require immediate medical care. Signs of a possible infection may include a fever and chills. Jaundice, abdominal pain, and dark urine may occur. Some patients may experience persistent nausea, an irregular heartbeat, or unusual bruising or bleeding. Rarely, seizures may occur or the patient may have severe muscle spasms to the point where the back arches and the eyes roll upward.

Patients who use perphenazine may rarely develop neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which is a nervous system condition that may be life-threatening. Signs of this condition can include changes in the amount of urine, rapid heartbeat, and stiff muscles, as well as a fever. Extrapyrmidal symptoms may also occur, which can include drooling, a shuffling walk, and persistent shaking. This condition also requires immediate medical care.

Tardive dyskinesia may rarely occur, which is involuntary muscle movements that can become permanent. Patients should discontinue the medication and seek a doctor's care immediately if they notice any involuntary or repetitive movements. These may include smacking the lips and moving the tongue out of the mouth.

In addition, perphenazine may also increase the level of prolactin, a chemical. Female patients may notice abnormal or missed menstrual periods, as well as unwanted breast milk. Men may develop an inability to produce sperm, a decreased sexual desire, and enlarged breasts.

Before using perphenazine, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, such as seizure disorders, kidney disease, or heart disease. They must also disclose their other medications and supplements to avoid an interaction. Drugs that may interact with this antipsychotic can include antihistamines, cough or cold medicine, and sleeping pills.

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