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How can I avoid the side effects of schizophrenia medication?

Donna Hill Howes, RN
Family Medicine
One of the most common ways to treat symptoms of schizophrenia is through the use of antipsychotic medications, which can cause a variety of side effects. Unfortunately, there may not be a way to completely avoid the side effects of your medications. Rashes, dizziness, and drowsiness are common side effects of many antipsychotics. If you are taking the older, “typical” antipsychotics, you may be more likely to experience movement disorders such as tardive dyskinesia. If this is the case, talk with your doctor about the option of switching to another type of antipsychotic, maybe one of the atypical (newer) antipsychotic medications.

However, even with these drugs, side effects can occur, such as weight gain, diabetes, and high cholesterol. If you experience side effects, make sure to tell your doctor about them. He or she will want to check your blood sugar levels and your cholesterol levels, and may prescribe medication to help with these effects. It may help to remember that most side effect will eventually go away once your body gets used to the medicine. If you find that the side effects of your medications are not tolerable, talk with your doctor about other treatment options.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Like with most drugs, some side effects are unavoidable. With schizophrenia prescriptions, though, most side effects go away within a few days or can be managed easily and effectively. But you have to tell your doctor about what you’re experiencing. If need be, he can help you find a different medication or adjust your dose so that the side effects aren’t as severe.

You can also avoid side effects from schizophrenia medications by taking your medicine exactly as directed. And don’t go playing doctor and take other medications, street drugs, herbs, or supplements, without notifying your doctor first. There can be some nasty interactions that are more severe than the side effects you might otherwise be experiencing. Tell your doc immediately if you experience something you or she didn’t expect.

However, if you begin experiencing serious side effects like Tin Man-esque stiff muscles, a high fever, or sudden confusion and exhaustion, call 911 or head to the ER.

Avoid the side effects of schizophrenia medication by talking with your doctor. There are a variety of medications used to treat schizophrenia. If you are suffering from negative side effects, your doctor may be able to prescribe a different medication that will not cause the same reactions. Telling your doctor about your side effects and monitoring those side effects can help you communicate with your doctor about the problem. Staying on your medication will increase your chances of minimizing your symptoms significantly, so it is important that you do everything in your power to reduce side effects and continue to take your medication.

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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.