Atypical Antipsychotic Medications for Treatment of Schizophrenia

Detailed info on atypical antipsychotic medications that help manage the positive and negative symptoms of Schizophrenia.

Detailed info on atypical antipsychotic medications that help manage the positive and negative symptoms of Schizophrenia.

Medications help in relieving the symptoms of Schizophrenia, help the individual feel better, and can delay or prevent a relapse. The goal of medication therapy is to use the least amount of medication possible to manage the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia effectively, as well as to minimize unwanted side effects. Antipsychotic drug treatment for Schizophrenia is usually continuous, as relapse of symptoms is common when medication is discontinued.

Atypical Antipsychotic Medications

Schizophrenia is now being treated with new medications that are commonly called "atypical antipsychotics." These drugs have less severe side effects than the former generation of drugs used to treat this debilitating disease.

Antipsychotics or neuroleptic drugs (as they're sometimes called) help relieve the positive symptoms of schizophrenia by helping to correct an imbalance in the chemicals that enable brain cells to communicate with each other. As with drug treatments for other physical illnesses, many patients with severe mental illnesses may need to try several different antipsychotic medications before they find the one, or the combination of medications, that works best for them.

Conventional Antipsychotics

Conventional antipsychotics were introduced in the 1950s and all had similar ability to relieve the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. Most of these older "conventional" antipsychotics differed in the side effects they produced. These conventional antipsychotics include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Prolixin), haloperidol (Haldol), thiothixene (Navane), trifluoperazine (Stelazine), perphenazine (Trilafon), and thioridazine (Mellaril).

In the last decade, new "atypical" antipsychotics have been introduced. Compared to the older "conventional" antipsychotics these medications appear to be equally effective for helping reduce the positive symptoms like hallucinations and delusions - but may be better than the older medications at relieving the negative symptoms of the illness, such as withdrawal, thinking problems, and lack of energy. The atypical antipsychotics include aripiprazole (Abilify), risperidone (Risperdal), clozapine (Clozaril), olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and ziprasidone (Geodon).

Current treatment guidelines recommend using one of the atypical antipsychotics other than clozapine as a first-line treatment option for newly diagnosed patients. However, for people already taking a conventional antipsychotic medication that is working well, a change to an atypical may not be the best option. People thinking of changing their medication should always consult with their doctor and work together to develop the safest and most effective treatment plan possible.

APA Reference
Gluck, S. (2007, March 7). Atypical Antipsychotic Medications for Treatment of Schizophrenia, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 22 from

Last Updated: June 11, 2019

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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