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More Tips on Taking Antipsychotics

More Tips on Taking Antipsychotics

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A man talks about antipsychotic medicationAs I said last time, I found antipsychotics a very scary type of medication to try and there are things I wish people had told me before I started. Here are a few more tips when dealing with antipsychotics.

Low Dose Antipsychotics

It’s worth noting that in cases of disorders outside of schizophrenia, often a low dose of an antipsychotic can be helpful. In fact, sometimes even the lowest dose available, when used with other medications, can be very effective. And antipsychotics can work in otherwise very treatment-resistant cases, so they are definitely a treatment to consider.

Be careful though. You cannot always cut an antipsychotic tablet. This is because the outside of the tablet is designed to control the release of the drug within your system and by cutting it, you are defeating that mechanism. You may have too fast a release or even a lack of potency by cutting the drug. This is not a minor thing. Too fast a release of drug can result in side effects that can land you in the emergency room. If you have not asked your doctor—do not cut the pill.

Food and Antipsychotics

Some antipsychotics must be taken with food. This is not because your doctor is trying to avoid an upset stomach, this is because without the food, the medication does not enter your body properly.

Without food, you may only be getting 10 percent of the drug. Really. Food affects the metabolism of the pill, which then, in turn, effects something known as the bioavailability. The bioavailability is how much of the drug is actually available for your body to use. With food, you may have a bioavailability of 60 percent and without food it might only be 1 percent. It’s really that drastic. (Drugs don’t have a bioavilability of 100 percent as some of the drug is naturally digested and doesn’t become available.)

And when they say, “with food” it’s important to know what they mean. Drugs like lurasidone (Latuday)and ziprasidone (Geodon) must be taken with food.  And by taken with food I mean more than 350 calories. This means you cannot take you pill with an apple; you must actually take it with a meal.

Antipsychotic Withdrawal

Withdrawal is not commonly a big deal with antipsychotics (not compared to many other drug classes) but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. There are two times when withdrawal occurs: right before your next dose and when withdrawing the drug entirely. (And, to be clear, withdrawal doesn’t indicate addiction.)

Yes, it is the case that you can experience withdrawal when taking the drug as prescribed. For example, maybe you take a drug at 6 p.m. but you find that at 4 p.m. you start to feel really ill. That may be withdrawal. Some drugs in some people can produce this reaction. The easiest way to deal with it is to split the dose so that instead of taking it once a day, you take it twice a day. Increasing the dose may also help.

And, of course, there is the withdrawal that occurs when you are going off the drug entirely. As with any drug, withdrawal should be done gradually, over a period of time if withdrawal effects are felt. Withdrawal can send you for a loop, or you may feel nothing at all.

Being Scared of Antipsychotics

I once wrote that “being on antipsychotics makes you sound particularly crazy.” And I think this is true. This is a perception though, and not reality.

In reality, antipsychotics (also called neuroleptics, by the way) are just another class of drug. Antipsychotics have their upsides and their downsides and they may be right for you or they may not. The important thing is to be forearmed when taking them and looking for trouble before trouble finds you. These can be very effective medications when used correctly.

It goes without saying that I am not a doctor and you should discuss any and all concerns and medication changes with your doctor before changing anything.

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About the Author

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer who specializes in writing about bipolar disorder.

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