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Mellaril

Generic Name: thioridazine (THYE oh RID a zeen)
Brand Name: Mellaril

Medically reviewed on September 19, 2018

What is Mellaril?

Mellaril is an antipsychotic medicine called a phenothiazine (FEEN-oh-THYE-a-zeen). It works by changing the actions of chemicals in your brain.

Mellaril is used to treat schizophrenia.

Mellaril is usually given after other antipsychotic medicines have been tried without success.

Mellaril may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Mellaril is not approved for use in psychotic conditions related to dementia. This medicine may increase the risk of death in older adults with dementia-related conditions.

You should not use Mellaril if you have a heart rhythm disorder, a history of Long QT syndrome, untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure, very low blood pressure, or if you have drowsiness, slow breathing, weak pulse, or decreased alertness.

Mellaril can cause a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder, especially if you use certain other medicines at the same time. Many medicines should not be taken together with this medicine, including certain antibiotics, antidepressants, heart or blood pressure medicine, other antipsychotic medicines, and medicines to treat cancer, malaria, HIV or AIDS. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with this medicine.

Before taking this medicine

Mellaril is not approved for use in psychotic conditions related to dementia. This medicine may increase the risk of death in older adults with dementia-related conditions.

You should not use Mellaril if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

  • a heart rhythm disorder, or history of Long QT syndrome;

  • untreated or uncontrolled high blood pressure;

  • very low blood pressure; or

  • if you have drowsiness, slow breathing, weak pulse, or decreased alertness (such as after drinking alcohol or taking medicines that make you sleepy).

Mellaril can cause a life-threatening heart rhythm disorder, especially if you use certain other medicines at the same time. Many medicines should not be taken together with this medicine because they may cause this heart rhythm disorder or other serious medical problems. This includes:

  • antibiotics;

  • antidepressants;

  • blood pressure medicine;

  • cancer medicine;

  • certain HIV/AIDS medicines;

  • heart rhythm medicine;

  • medicine to treat or prevent malaria; or

  • other antipsychotic medicines.

Long-term use of thioridazine can cause a serious movement disorder that may not be reversible. Symptoms of this disorder include uncontrollable muscle movements of your lips, tongue, eyes, face, arms, or legs. The longer you take Mellaril, the more likely you are to develop this movement disorder. The risk of this side effect is higher in women and older adults.

To make sure Mellaril is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease, high blood pressure, or a heart rhythm disorder;

  • a history of slow heartbeats that have caused you to faint;

  • past or present breast cancer;

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • a history of seizures;

  • Parkinson's disease;

  • enlarged prostate or urination problems;

  • low levels of potassium in your blood (hypokalemia); or

  • if you have ever had a serious side effect while using Mellaril or another phenothiazine.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using Mellaril.

Taking antipsychotic medication during the last 3 months of pregnancy may cause problems in the newborn, such as withdrawal symptoms, breathing problems, feeding problems, fussiness, tremors, and limp or stiff muscles. However, you may have withdrawal symptoms or other problems if you stop taking your medicine during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking Mellaril, do not stop taking it without your doctor's advice.

It is not known whether thioridazine passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take Mellaril?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

While using Mellaril, you may need frequent blood tests. Your heart function may need to be checked using an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG).

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using Mellaril.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Mellaril?

Mellaril may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert. Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Get up slowly and steady yourself to prevent a fall.

Avoid drinking alcohol. Dangerous side effects could occur.

Mellaril side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using Mellaril and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • uncontrolled muscle movements in your face (chewing, lip smacking, frowning, tongue movement, blinking or eye movement);

  • tremor (uncontrolled shaking), drooling, trouble swallowing, problems with balance or walking;

  • headache with chest pain and severe dizziness, fainting, fast or pounding heartbeats;

  • confusion, slurred speech;

  • seizure (convulsions);

  • sudden weakness or ill feeling, fever, chills, sore throat, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, pain when swallowing, skin sores, cold or flu symptoms, cough;

  • little or no urinating;

  • decreased night vision, tunnel vision, watery eyes, increased sensitivity to light; or

  • severe nervous system reaction--very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out.

Common side effects may include:

  • drowsiness;

  • dry mouth, blurred vision;

  • nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea;

  • breast swelling or discharge;

  • changes in your menstrual periods; or

  • swelling in your hands or feet.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Mellaril?

Taking Mellaril with other drugs that make you sleepy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous or life-threatening side effects. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic pain medicine, prescription cough medicine, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Many drugs can interact with Mellaril , and some drugs should not be used together. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with this medicine. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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