Trifluoperazine | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

trifluoperazine, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Stelazine (Discontinued)
A discontinued drug is a drug that has been taken off the market due to safety issues, shortage of raw materials, or low market demand.
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Highlights for trifluoperazine

Oral tablet
1

Trifluoperazine is used to treat schizophrenia and anxiety.

2

Trifluoperazine comes as a tablet you take by mouth.

3

Trifluoperazine is only available as a generic drug.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning indicates drug effects that may be dangerous.

Increased risk of death in seniors with dementia warning. This drug can increase the risk of death in seniors with dementia-related psychosis. People with dementia-related psychosis should not use this medication.

Tardive dyskinesia

This drug may cause tardive dyskinesia. This is a serious condition that causes movements that you can’t control in your face, tongue, or other body parts. This condition may not go away even if you stop taking this drug. Talk to your doctor right away if you have symptoms. Your doctor may stop your treatment with this medication.

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS)

In rare cases, this drug may cause NMS. This is a life-threatening reaction. Symptoms can include high fever, muscle stiffness, confusion, and unstable blood pressure. They can also include a fast heart rate, heavy sweating, and arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm). Call your doctor right away if you have any signs of NMS. Your doctor may stop your treatment with this drug.

Infections

This drug can lower your white blood cell count. This may lead to infections. Your doctor will watch you for signs of infection. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms. These can include fever, body aches, and chills. Your doctor will check your white blood cell counts before and during your treatment. If the counts drop too low, your doctor will stop your treatment with this drug.

What is trifluoperazine?

Trifluoperazine is a prescription drug. It comes as an oral tablet. It’s only available as a generic drug.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat schizophrenia and anxiety.

How it works

Trifluoperazine belongs to a class of drugs called antipsychotics.

See Details

How it works

Trifluoperazine belongs to a class of drugs called antipsychotics. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

It isn’t known exactly how this drug works. It may help control the amount of a chemical called dopamine in your brain. Dopamine plays a role in both schizophrenia and anxiety. Controlling it may improve your condition.

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trifluoperazine Side Effects

Oral tablet

More common side effects

The more common side effects of trifluoperazine can include:

  • drowsiness

  • dizziness

  • skin reactions, such as:

    • skin darkening
    • redness
    • itchiness
    • irritation
    • dryness
    • increased sweating
  • rash

  • dry mouth

  • sleeping trouble

  • loss of ovulation and menstrual period (tends to be temporary)

  • fatigue

  • muscle weakness

  • loss of appetite

  • lactation (producing breast milk)

  • blurry vision

  • restlessness or feeling like you have to move

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Symptoms can include:

    • fever
    • stiff muscles
    • confusion
    • sweating
    • changes in heart rate and pulse
    • unstable blood pressure
  • Tardive dyskinesia (body movements you can’t control). Symptoms can include:

    • being unable to control your face, tongue, mouth, jaw, or other body parts
  • Low white blood cell count. This may lead to an infection. Symptoms of an infection can include:

    • fever
    • body aches
    • chills
  • Orthostatic hypotension. This is a sudden drop in blood pressure when you stand up from a sitting or lying position. Symptoms can include:

    • lightheadedness or fainting
  • Trouble controlling your body temperature (may cause you to feel too warm)

  • Seizures

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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trifluoperazine May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Trifluoperazine can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you take. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of side effects from this drug. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Increased side effects from other drugs: Taking trifluoperazine with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from those drugs. Examples include:

  • Thiazide diuretics such as hydrochlorothiazide and chlorthalidone
    • Taking these drugs together may cause a drop in blood pressure when you get up from a sitting or lying position. This may cause dizziness.

Increased side effects from both drugs: Taking trifluoperazine with certain medications raises your risk of side effects. This is because trifluoperazine and these other medications can cause the same side effects. As a result, these side effects can be increased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Propranolol
    • Your doctor may change your dosage of either drug if you have increased side effects.

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective

When other drugs are less effective: When certain drugs are used with trifluoperazine, they may not work as well. This is because the amount of these drugs in your body may be decreased. Examples include:

  • Blood thinner drugs such as warfarin, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and dabigatran
    • Trifluoperazine may decrease the effect of oral blood thinner drugs.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
heart condition warning
People with a heart condition

Tell your doctor if you have a heart issue before starting this drug. They’ll tell you if this drug is safe for you.

seizures or epilepsy warning
People with seizures or epilepsy

This drug may cause you to have more seizures. Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. You should also talk to your doctor if you have a condition that could cause you to have seizures more easily, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

low white blood cell count
People with a low white blood cell count

Tell your doctor if you have a history of low white blood cell levels before starting treatment. This drug can further lower your white blood cell levels.

glaucoma warning
People with glaucoma

Ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you. This drug can dilate your pupils.

liver problem warning
People with liver problems

This drug is broken down in the liver. If you have liver damage, you may not be able to break down this drug very well. This can lead to increased side effects. If you have liver damage, ask your doctor if this drug is safe for you.

diabetes warning
People with diabetes

This drug can increase your blood sugar levels. In rare cases, it can decrease blood sugar levels. You and your doctor should monitor your blood sugar levels more closely during treatment. If your blood sugar levels increase, your doctor may change your diabetes medications.

pregnancy warning
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:  

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the pregnancy.

breast feeding warning
Women who are breast-feeding

Trifluoperazine may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

senior warning
For seniors

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

If you’re older than 65 years, you may be at higher risk of low blood pressure and muscle problems from this drug.

childrens warning
For children

This medication has not been studied in children with schizophrenia who are younger than 6 years. It should not be used in people younger than 6 years for this condition.

This drug has not been studied in children with anxiety. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years for treating anxiety.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergy warning
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • rash
  • hives
  • itching

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take trifluoperazine (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

The dosage information below is for the conditions that this drug is most often prescribed to treat. This list may not contain all conditions that your doctor can prescribe this drug for. If you have questions about your prescription, talk with your doctor.

What are you taking this medication for?

Schizophrenia

Brand: Trifluoperazine

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Starting dosage: 2-5 mg twice per day
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor will increase your dosage slowly until you respond to it or can’t tolerate the side effects.
  • Typical dosage: 15-20 mg per day in divided doses
  • Maximum dosage: 40 mg per day
Child dosage (ages 3–17 years)
  • Starting dosage: 2-5 mg twice per day
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor will increase your dosage slowly until you respond to it or can’t tolerate the side effects.
  • Typical dosage: 15–20 mg per day in divided doses
  • Maximum dosage: 40 mg per day
Child dosage (ages 6–12 years)
  • Starting dosage: 1 mg once or twice per day
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor will increase your child’s dosage slowly until your child responds to it or can’t tolerate the side effects.
  • Most children respond to 15 mg per day.
  • Older children with severe symptoms may need higher dosages.
Child dosage (ages 0–5 years)

This drug has not been studied in children with schizophrenia who are younger than 6 years. It should not be used in people younger than 6 years of age for this condition.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of the drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dosage or a different schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Anxiety

Brand: Trifluoperazine

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 1 mg, 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 1-2 mg twice per day
  • Maximum dosage: 6 mg per day
  • You should not take this drug for longer than 12 weeks for this condition.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This medication has not been studied in children with anxiety. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of the drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dosage or a different schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Trifluoperazine comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

You increase your risk of developing neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) if you stop taking this drug suddenly or change your dosage without talking to your doctor. If you don’t take this drug at all, your symptoms of schizophrenia or anxiety likely won’t improve.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • spasms of your neck muscles
  • trouble swallowing
  • trouble breathing
  • sticking your tongue out uncontrollably
  • sleepiness or drowsiness
  • coma
  • agitation or restlessness
  • seizures
  • dry mouth

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects. If you’re not sure about your dosing, call your doctor.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your symptoms will get better.

Trifluoperazine is used for long-term treatment of schizophrenia.

Trifluoperazine is used for short-term treatment of anxiety.

Important considerations for taking this drug
with or without food
You can take this drug with or without food. Taking it with food may help reduce upset stomach
timing considerations
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
can cut or crush
You can cut or crush the tablet
storage considerations
Store this drug carefully
See Details
medication is refillable
A prescription for the medication is refillable
See Details
travel considerations
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring considerations
Clinical monitoring
See Details
sun sensitivity warning
Sun sensitivity
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead

Store this drug carefully

  • Store trifluoperazine at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep this drug in the container it comes in.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for the medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription to refill this medication. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may monitor certain health issues while you take this drug. This can help make sure you stay safe during your treatment. These issues include:

  • White blood cell levels. This drug may lower your white blood cell count. Your doctor will check your white blood cell levels before and during treatment. If they drop too low, your doctor will stop your treatment with this drug.
  • Heart rate and blood pressure. Your doctor will check your heart rate and blood pressure before and during your treatment with this drug. If either one drops too low, your doctor may stop your treatment with this drug.

Sun sensitivity

This drug can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. This increases your risk of sunburn. Avoid the sun if you can. If you can’t, be sure to apply sunscreen and wear protective clothing.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does trifluoperazine Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for trifluoperazine

Walmart $14.73
Sams Club $14.73
CVS Pharmacy $19.48
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for trifluoperazine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for trifluoperazine on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on May 19, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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