What are the safest schizophrenia medications?

Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
All schizophrenia medication, also known as antipsychotic medications, have the risk for side effects. The newer class of medications for schizophrenia, called atypical antipsychotics, may be more desirable than those that were initially used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, called conventional or typical antipsychotics.

Atypical antipsychotic medications emerged in the 1990s as an alternative to the conventional, typical antipsychotics. Typical antipsychotics are known to cause a problem in some people called tardive dyskinesia (TD). This condition causes uncontrollable muscle movements that are often untreatable. Some people may prefer to use atypical antipsychotics to avoid developing TD.

Some people with schizophrenia may want to avoid a medicine called clozapine, which can reduce white blood cell counts to unhealthy levels, which increases the risk for infections.  However, parameters for monitoring a person's risk for this complication, should they choose to take clozapine, are well established.

Side effects can occur with all antipsychotic medications, and it is important to take the medicines as directed by a physician. Should the side effects become debilitating or the symptoms of the illness increase, people with schizophrenia can talk to their doctor about changing medications.

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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.