Posted: 01/22/2016

Typical vs Atypical Antipsychotics for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia_medications

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental disorder effects how individuals think, feel, and behave. Patients with this disorder often experience symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, erratic behavior, and agitated body movements that can interfere with everyday life. Diagnosing schizophrenia can involve complete blood count (CBC) tests to examine the overall health of the patient, and to rule out other possible diseases that may cause similar symptoms. Other screenings like an MRI and CT scan can also be administered to help identify brain abnormalities to correctly diagnose patients.

Individuals who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have treatment options that can help reduce and manage debilitating symptoms. Typical antipsychotics can treat patients by reducing abnormal dopamine levels in the brain, while new atypical antipsychotic treatments like Rexulti can reduce other symptoms like depression by combining two mechanisms of action.

Typical vs. Atypical Antipsychotics
Developed in the 1950s, first generation antipsychotics (FGA) or typical antipsychotics were prescribed for a wide range of mental disorders, including schizophrenia. Patients with schizophrenia have overactivity of dopamine, a natural body chemical that regulates movement, motivation, reward, and addiction. Typical antipsychotics like dopamine antagonists work by blocking dopamine in the brain to prevent overproduction that can cause psychosis and hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia. The problem with typical antipsychotics however, is that they cause extrapyramidal side effects that can manifest into psychical symptoms like body tremors, slurred speech, agitation, anxiety, and paranoia. These types of symptoms may manifest in patients with the wrong dosage, but can also occur as a natural reaction to dopamine antagonist.


Rexulti Atypical Antipsychotic Logo


Unlike first dopamine antagonists, atypical antipsychotics work in combination with chemical messengers in the brain like serotonin to reduce schizophrenia symptoms. While atypical antipsychotics still block dopamine in the brain, the amount is much less than older medications, and it has been proven to reduce depression when used in combination with antidepressants. For example, new schizophrenia treatment options like Rexulti can be used on adult patients with schizophrenia, but can also help reduce depression symptoms. The active ingredient in Rexulti, brexpiprazole, works on dopamine receptors and serotonergic receptors that cause schizophrenia and depression. The key difference in atypical antipsychotics like Rexulti is that patients are less likely to experience side effects like hallucinations and involuntary movements of the face or body, which is why doctors prescribe them the most. These types of new schizophrenia medications however, come with other side effects like weight gain, diabetes, and sexual problems, but are less severe when compared to typical antipsychotics.

Choosing the right schizophrenia medication:
The effectiveness of typical and atypical antipsychotic depends on each individual case, and most treatment options are usually recommended on a trial and error basis. Based on the diagnosis, a doctor may recommend typical antipsychotic medications to determine the effectiveness in curbing schizophrenia symptoms. If a patient does not react well to typical antipsychotics, second generation schizophrenia medications like Rexulti may be recommended to monitor the effects on a particular case. To help your doctor select the best treatment option, it is important to disclose medical history to prevent other existing conditions from being neglected during the treatment process.

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

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Our discounts provide you access to negotiated prices on your prescription drugs at your local pharmacy. We can provide these because we're partnered with OptumRx, a BIG pharmacy benefit provider that provides prescription coverage for MILLIONS of people like you.

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