Antipsychotic Drugs

Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat the symptoms of psychotic disorders. These are severe, often chronic psychiatric conditions characterized by hallucinations and delusions. Schizophrenia is the most commonly known psychotic disorder.

Psychotic disorders cause thinking difficulties, create unstable mood, and impact ability to interact with others and to perform activities of daily living. Antipsychotic drugs may reduce or eliminate the symptoms of psychosis that occur in several disorders such as schizophrenia, acute psychosis, and alcoholism.

Schizophrenia is characterized by positive symptoms, which include thought disorder, delusions, and hallucinations, and negative symptoms such as slowed thoughts, loss of emotional expression, slowed speech, decreased attention span, lack of motivation, and diminished social interest.




Antipsychotic medications





Antipsychotic medications
SOURCE: National Institute of Mental Health.

Individuals with schizophrenia have increased dopamine circulating in a region of the central nervous system called the mesolimbic pathway, which is associated with the experience of pleasure.

There are two classes of antipsychotic drugs: typical, or first generation; and atypical, or second generation. Both classes work by blocking excessive production of dopamine in the brain. First generation drugs act by blocking the D2 dopamine receptor. They generally decrease positive symptoms but may increase negative ones.

The atypical antipsychotics block the D2 receptor, as well as a specific serotonin receptor, called 5HT2A. The newer antipsychotics can affect both positive and negative symptoms. Examples or newer antipsychotic drugs are clozapine, quetiapine, risperidone, and aripiprazole.

KEY TERMS

Dopamine—
A neurotransmitter that helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centers and a person's emotional responses.
Psychosis—
A mental illness characterized by a loss of touch with reality, in which the person believes something is true that, in fact, does not exist.
Psychotic—
Severe, long-lasting, and often debilitating psychiatric conditions.

See also Schizophrenia .

Resources

BOOOKS

Boarder, Michael R., David Newby, and Phyllis Navti. Pharmacology for Pharmacy and the Health Sciences: A Patient-Centred Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Brick, John. Handbook of the Medical Consequences of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. New York: Routledge, 2012.

Patterson, JoEllen, et al., The Therapist's Guide to Psychopharmacology: Working with Patients, Families, and Physicians to Optimize Care. New York: Guilford Press, 2010.

PERIODICALS

Friedman, Richard A. “A Call for Caution on Antipsychotic drugs.” New York Times, September 24, 2012.

McGuire, A. B., et al. “Illness Management and Recovery: A Review of the Literature.” Psychiatric Services 65, no. 2 (February 1, 2014): 171–79.

Rowland, J. E., et al. “Adaptive Associations Between Social Cognition and Emotion Regulation Are Absent in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder.” Frontiers in Psychology 3 (January 11, 2013): 607.

Strauss, J. S. “Reconceptualizing Schizophrenia.” Schizo-phrenia Bulletin, Suppl. 40 (November 13, 2013): S97– S100.

WEBSITES

Mayo Clinic. “Childhood schizophrenia.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/childhood-schizophrenia/basics/definition/con-20029260 (accessed July 13, 2015).

World Health Organization. “Schizophrenia.” http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/schizophrenia/en/ (accessed July 13, 2015).

ORGANIZATIONS

American Psychiatric Association, 1000 Wilson Blvd., Ste. 1825, Arlington, VA, 22209-3901, (703) 907-7300, apa&psych.org, http://www.psych.org .

National Institute of Mental Health, Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch, 6001 Executive Blvd., Rm. 6200, MSC 9663, Bethesda, MD, 20892-9663, (301) 443-4513, (866) 615-6464, Fax: (301) 443-4279, nimhinfo @nih.gov, http://www.nimh.nih.gov .