Medications are central to the treatment of schizophrenia and a number of drugs are used to treat this serious mental condition. Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder marked by psychosis- a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to errors in perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality, and a sense of mental fragmentation.
Most patients are now treated with antipsychotics that are thought to control symptoms through the brain chemical, dopamine. There are two types of antipsychotics used: first generation and second generation.
First Generation Antipsychotics
The first generation antipsychotics have more serious side effects and are used only when necessary. They include haloperidol (Haldol), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), and Fluphenazine (Prolixin). Side effects of first-generation antipsychotics include extrapyramidal side effects which is marked by rigidity, bradykinesia, dystonias, tremor, and akathisia. Tardive dyskinesia (TD)— a disorder marked by permanent involuntary movements in the limbs and face such as grimacing and lip-smacking – is another adverse effect that can occur with first-generation antipsychotics. Additionally. first-generation antipsychotics are known to cause cardiac rhythm abnormalities.
Second Generation Antipsychotics and Side Effects
The newer second generation antipsychotics have less side effects than the older drugs, and are preferred for treatment of schizophrenia. They include: aripiprazole (Abilify), asenapine (Saphris), brexipiprazole (Rexulti), clozapine (Clozaril), Iloperidone (Fanapt), Lurasidone (Latuda), Olanzapine (Zyprexa), Paliperidone (Invega), quetiapine (Seroquel), risperidone (Risperdal), and ziprasidone (Geodon).
Abilify side effects include akathisia (agitation), restlessness, insomnia, constipation, fatigue and blurred vision. Most of the second-generation antipsychotics have similar side effects, as they are similar chemically. Geodon is one of the newer antipsychotics with extra-pyramidal side effects reported (drug induced movement disorders).
During initial phases of treatment with the second generation antipsychotics patients may experience side effects such as dry mouth, drowsiness, restlessness, muscle spasms, tremor or blurring of vision. The second generation antipsychotics have a much lower risk of tardive dyskinesia, a serious side effect of the older antipsychotics. It is possible to lessen side effects by either lowering the dose or by changing medications.
Patients and physicians often work together to find a dose that results in the fewest side effects. Patients will often change medications if the side effects are severe and side effects lessen over time. One way to potentially avoid side effects for new medications and for newly prescribed schizophrenia medications is to have your drug metabolism genes tested. After the human genome was sequenced back in 2003, genome wide association studies showed that there is variation among the population in the genes that process medications. As a result, if there’s a drug-processing gene with variation, it may have trouble processing medications that are metabolized by that gene product.
Know Your Risks with the Rxight® DNA Test
The most state-of-the-art way to determine genetic variations is with the Rxight® pharmacogenetics test from MD Labs. This advance in pharmacogenetics means that a physician can determine beforehand what drugs may be safe to take and what drugs to avoid or require different doses than recommended. All that is required is a prescription from a physician and a cheek swab at a participating pharmacy.
You could benefit from this advance in precision medicine with the knowledge of your gene variations with your physician or other healthcare services. The Rxight® pharmacogenetics test determines your genetic susceptibilities for over 200 drugs on the market. You could also benefit from knowing how you might respond to drugs you may have to take in the future. Most importantly, you could get information that may change your current dosing and medication for fewer harmful side effects from your antipsychotic medication.