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What Is Ziprasidone Hydrochloride?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 17, 2024
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Ziprasidone hydrochloride is a drug that can control certain psychiatric disorders. The primary conditions for the drug treatment are schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although scientists do not know exactly how the drug helps people with bipolar disorder, in schizophrenia it appears to alter the effects of the brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine, to reduce hallucinations and act as an antidepressant.

Treatment forms of ziprasidone can come in an injection or in a capsule. The hydrochloride form is suitable for capsules, and the ziprasidone mesylate structure comes as the injection. They form part of the atypical antipsychotic medicine group, which tend to be better at treating schizophrenia than other antipsychotic medications. This may be due to the fact that the older drugs do not have much of an effect on the chemical signal serotonin in the brain.

The exact manner in which ziprasidone hydrochloride works is not clear, although it does have effects on the brain, and therefore on emotions and other psychological issues. Scientists think that the drug interacts with certain receptors in the brain. These receptors recognize the chemical signals dopamine and serotonin.

These two receptors are involved in emotion and other feelings. If brain chemistry is altered through psychiatric disease, the affected person can experience mental issues like delusions and hallucinations. Ziprasidone hydrochloride can change the way the brain produces signals, so that the mental problems disappear. This explanation of the mode of action of ziprasidone hydrochloride only relates to schizophrenic illness, and not to bipolar disorder.

As of 2011, it remains unclear how ziprasidone hydrochloride works on the brains of people with bipolar disorder. It does soothe the symptoms of manic episodes, or episodes of mixed symptoms, however, and can prevent other episodes. The capsule may form an entire long-term drug regimen, or a doctor may administer it as emergency medicine when a flare-up of symptoms occurs. Some patients who take it long-term use it as part of a treatment along with another antipsychotic like valproate or lithium. The daily dose depends on the individual patient, and can range from 20 mg to about 80 mg.

Excessive sleepiness is a possible side effect that can affect both schizophrenic and bipolar patients. Infections like colds and flu may also occur, as can dizziness, vomiting or sight problems. Restlessness, weakness or muscle problems are also possible. Risks associated with antipsychotic drugs as a group also include sudden death, potentially lethal problems like Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, diabetes and potentially permanent muscle twitches known as tardive dyskinesia.

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