Medication is an essential component of treating schizophrenia. Medication can help relieve symptoms of schizophrenia such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking by blocking certain chemical receptors in the brain. The most commonly prescribed types of medications for schizophrenia are antipsychotics, and there are two classifications of antipsychotics, typical and atypical. These medications sometimes various forms, such as tablet, syrup, or injection.

Atypical Antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychotics are also known as second generation antipsychotics. These medications are generally the first course of medication because they have a lower risk of serious side effects.
They are less likely to cause disorders of movement like tardive dyskinesia, but they may increase the risk of weight gain or hyperglycemia which can lead to diabetes.1

Types of atypical antipsychotics include:

Clorazil (clozapine) is a special atypical antispsychotic. Clorazil is usually prescribed only when other antipsychotics fail to relieve symptoms or when a person with schizophrenia suffers from suicidal ideation. This is because there is an increased risk for lowered white blood cell count, and because clorazil is the only atypical medication that has indicated to help reduce suicidal thoughts.2 If you take clorazil, you may need to have your white blood cell count monitored regularly.

Typical Antipsychotics

Typical antipsychotics were the first generation of antipsychotics that were developed, starting in the 1950s. They can be effective in managing symptoms but also can cause short-term and long-term side effects. One long-term effect is the development of tardive dyskinesia (TD), which is an involuntary movement disorder.3 People with tardive dyskinesia, may experience random movements in their muscles, eyes, tongue, jaw, and lips. Typical antipsychotics are usually prescribed when atypical antipsychotics have not been effective.

Types of typical antipsychotics include:

  • Haldol (haloperidol)
  • Loxitane (loxapine)
  • Navane (thiothixene)
  • Prolixin (fluphenazine)
  • Thorazine (chlorpromazine)
  • Trilafon (perphenazine)
  • Stelazine (trifluoperazine)

People with schizophrenia are also sometimes prescribed antidepressants or mood stabilizers to manage mood symptoms.

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Medication Management

It’s important to talk to your doctor about any other medications you are taking or medical conditions you have before taking antipsychotics. All antipsychotics have the potential to cause cardiac complications, so be sure to talk to your doctor about the risks and get regular checkups. Doctors also recommend that you not discontinue use of antipsychotics before consulting with them. Let your doctor know if you’re experiencing any side effects. You can also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or online.

Try to not be discouraged if the first antipsychotic is not as effective in managing symptoms. Often it makes several tries before patients find the best medication that works for managing their schizophrenia.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This article mentions drugs that were FDA-approved and available at the time of publication and may not include all possible drug interactions or all FDA warnings or alerts. The author of this page explicitly does not endorse this drug or any specific treatment method. If you have health questions or concerns about interactions, please check with your physician or go to the FDA site for a comprehensive list of warnings.

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Last Updated: Nov 25, 2018