What are atypical antipsychotics and when are they used?
Atypical antipsychotics comprise a group of medications that are used for the treatment of various psychiatric conditions, including psychotic disorders. Having in mind the seriousness of the treated conditions, each medication from this group has to be prescribed by the doctor, and they have to be used exactly as prescribed, in order to work properly and give the expected results.
The reason why they are called atypical lies in the fact that, unlike typical antipsychotics, atypical are less likely to provoke some of the so-called extrapyramidal symptoms, such as, constant muscle spasm and stiffness, tremor, restlessness, and unusual and abnormal body movements. Some of these symptoms tend to remain permanent even after the use of the medication is stopped. Unlike typical antipsychotics, atypical are a better choice because the patients react better to them and their quality of life is improved in general, while the risk of suicides is lower. They are more effective in particular symptoms of schizophrenia, and they have proven to cause fewer side effects than typical antipsychotics. However, it does not mean that they are perfectly safe for use, and that none of the adverse effects is related to them.
Side effects of atypical antipsychotics
Atypical antipsychotics do cause fewer side effects than typical, and they do cause them less frequently. A group of side effects, which is called tardive dyskinesia refers to some unwanted symptoms that can occur after the use of atypical antipsychotics, though it is believed that they tend to occur only after such medication have been used over the longer period of time. These symptoms include so-called ''fly-catching'' movements of tongue, smacking of lips, blinking of eyes, and abnormal movements of legs, arms and other body parts. These movements cannot be controlled, and an individual who experiences them does not necessarily have to be aware of them. The problem is that these abnormal movements can be treated in some cases, either with some other medication, or with simple change of the atypical antipsychotic that is being used, but in a number of cases, once they develop, they remain with patient forever.
Other side effects of these medications are type 2 diabetes, which is more likely to occur in people suffering from schizophrenia, as well as gaining weight, because according to the statistics, about half of the people with this disease are either obese or overweight.