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What side effects affect children on schizophrenia medications?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
All medications for schizophrenia have a risk for side effects. Schizophrenia medications for children, called antipsychotics, are the same medicines used for adults. These drugs reduce schizophrenia symptoms such as psychosis, lack of motivation, and loss of interest. To understand the different side effects, it is helpful to know that there are two groups of antipsychotic medications. Typical, or conventional, antipsychotics, developed in the 1950s,  were the first group of medications used to treat schizophrenia. Side effects of typical antipsychotics include:

• Movement disorders affecting the mouth, hands, and outer limbs
• Stiffness or muscle spasms
• Feelings of restlessness

The second group, atypical antipsychotics, were developed in the 1990s. Currently, two atypical medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for childhood schizophrenia. These medications are risperidone and aripiprazole. Atypicals also carry side effects, including:

• Weight gain and changes in metabolism
• Risk of diabetes
• Risk of high cholesterol
• Risk of other side effects from drug interactions

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.