What are Antipsychotics?
Antipsychotics are drugs that are used to treat symptoms of psychosis such as delusions (for example, hearing voices), hallucinations, paranoia, or confused thoughts. They are used in the treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and severe anxiety. Antipsychotics are also useful at stabilizing episodes of mania in people with Bipolar Disorder.
Their main action is on dopamine receptors, reducing levels of excess dopamine. They may also affect levels of other neurotransmitters, namely acetylcholine, noradrenaline, and serotonin.
Older antipsychotics tend to be called typical antipsychotics, and antipsychotics that have been developed more recently are called atypical antipsychotics. Atypical antipsychotics are less likely to produce extrapyramidal side effects (such as tremor and Parkinson's-like symptoms) and tardive dyskinesia (abnormal, repetitive facial movements). Atypical antipsychotics are also more likely to improve cognitive function. Clozapine (classed as an atypical antipsychotic even though it is quite an old drug) also improves delusions and hallucinations and reduces the risk of suicide.
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