People take antipsychotics to treat schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. Your doctor will work with you to monitor your side effects and dosing schedule.

Over the past few decades, access to treatment for mental health conditions has greatly improved. And for many people living with these conditions across the country, there are more treatment options than ever to help manage their symptoms.

When someone has a mood disorder or a condition like schizophrenia, medication plays an essential role in long-term symptom management. Antipsychotics are the most commonly prescribed class of medication for these types of conditions, among others.

Below, we’ll share everything you need to know about antipsychotics, including their uses, examples, side effects, and more.

Antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptic medications, are drugs that target certain neurotransmitters to manage the symptoms of mental health conditions.

Antipsychotics are classified into two groups depending on their “mechanism of action,” or how they work in the brain.

First-generation antipsychotics, also known as typical antipsychotics, are dopamine receptor antagonists. This means they block dopamine receptors to reduce the action of dopamine in the brain.

Second-generation antipsychotics, also known as atypical antipsychotics, are serotonin-dopamine antagonists. This means they limit the action of these neurotransmitters by blocking their receptors in the brain.

Some of the most common uses of antipsychotics are to treat schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Other mental health conditions that may benefit from antipsychotics include:

Antipsychotic medications can provide different benefits for mental health conditions like schizophrenia and mood disorders, depending on the subclass, dosage, and specific formulation.

Typical antipsychotics

Examples of typical, or first-generation, antipsychotics include:

  • trifluoperazine (Stelazine)
  • perphenazine (Trilafon)
  • prochlorperazine (Compazine)
  • haloperidol (Haldol)
  • thiothixene (Navane)
  • chlorprothixene (Truxal)
  • loxapine (Loxitane)
  • molindone (Moban)

Atypical antipsychotics

Examples of atypical, or second-generation, antipsychotics include:

Although antipsychotics are effective for treating certain mental health conditions, side effects are extremely common and can vary depending on the medication.

Some of the potential side effects of antipsychotic medications include:

Other rare but serious side effects of antipsychotics may include a low red blood cell or platelet count, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and sudden cardiac death.

Most private and government insurance plans offer coverage of antipsychotic medications for the treatment of mental health conditions.

When it comes to Medicare specifically, antipsychotics and antidepressants are “protected” medications. This means that all Medicare prescription drug plans must offer coverage of these medications.

However, there may be some exceptions to these coverage rules, and out-of-pocket costs can vary from plan to plan. If you have any questions about which antipsychotics your insurance plan covers, reach out to your insurance company directly.

Antidepressants and antipsychotics are two medication classes that work on neurotransmitters in different ways. While antipsychotics typically reduce the action of neurotransmitters, most antidepressants work to increase the availability of these compounds in the brain.

Doctors use antidepressants to treat the symptoms of depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and other mental health conditions.

Some of the most common types of antidepressants include:

Doctors commonly prescribe antipsychotics to treat the symptoms of mental health conditions like schizophrenia and mood disorders. Antipsychotic medications work by altering the action of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

If you’ve been considering starting antipsychotics as part of your treatment for a mental health condition, reach out to your doctor for more information. Together, you can assess the risks and benefits to see if these medications are a good option for you.