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Antipsychotic drugs are a class of medicines used to treat psychosis and other mental and emotional conditions.
Psychosis is defined as "a serious mental disorder (as schizophrenia) characterized by defective or lost contact with reality often with hallucinations or delusions." Psychosis is an end-stage condition arising from a variety of possible causes. Anti-psychotic drugs control the symptoms of psychosis, and in many cases are effective in controlling the symptoms of other disorders that may lead to psychosis, including bipolar mood disorder (formerly termed manic-depressive), in which the patient cycles from severe depression to feelings of extreme excitation. This class of drugs is primarily composed of the major tranquilizers; however, lithium carbonate, a drug that is largely specific to bipolar mood disorder, is commonly classified among the antipsychotic agents.
The antipsychotic agents may be divided by chemical class. The phenothiazines are the oldest group, and include chlorpromazine (Thorazine), mesoridazine (Serentil), prochlorperazine (Compazine), and thioridazine (Mellaril). These drugs are essentially similar in action and adverse effects. They may also be used as anti-emetics, although prochlorperazine is the drug most often used for this indication.
The phenylbutylpiperadines are haloperidol (Haldol) and pimozide (Orap). They find primary use in control of Tourette's syndrome. Haloperidol has been extremely useful in controlling aggressive behavior.
The debenzapine derivatives, clozapine (Clozaril), loxapine (Loxitane), olanzapine (Zyprexa) and quetiapine (Seroquel), have been effective in controlling psychotic symptoms that have not been responsive to other classes of drugs.
The benzisoxidil group is composed of resperidone (Resperidal) and ziprasidone (Geodon). Resperidone has been found useful for controlling bipolar mood disorder, while ziprasidone is used primarily as second-line treatment for schizophrenia.
In addition to these drugs, the class of antipsychotic agents includes lithium carbonate (Eskalith, Lithonate), which is used for control of bipolar mood disorder, and thiothixene (Navane), which is used in the treatment of psychosis.
Dose varies with the drug, condition being treated, and patient response. See specific references.
Author Info: Samuel D. Uretsky PharmD, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, 2002
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