What’s the deal with anti-psychotics?

Anti-psychotic medications block dopamine receptors in the brain. By interfering with dopamine binding to dopamine sites as well as antagonizing serotonin, adrenergic alpha1 and alpha2 receptors, an anti-psychotic effect is produced.

There are 5 classes of anti-psychotics:

Side Effects
The action of anti-psychotic medications is thought to reduce the effect of dopamine in the central nervous system, therefore many of the side effects associated with these medications are related to the altered levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Extrapyramidal Effects
Akathisia (motor restlessness), dykinesia (abnormal voluntary movements), dystonia (abnormal muscle tone, produced spasms of the tongue, face and neck), and Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s Disease
Parkinson’s disease involves a shuffling gait, rigidity of muscles, excessive salivation, tremors, and motor retardation. Tardive dyskinesia (characterized by involuntary movements of the mouth, tongue, extremities, and trunk; chewing motions, tongue thrusting and sucking movements) can result from extended use of anti-psychotic medications due to the prolonged dopamine depletion.

Other side effects include: photosensitivity, sedation, cardiovascular (CV) side effects (including tachycardia, orthostatic hypotension and altered ECG results), reproductive side effects (including infertility, impotence, gynecomastia).

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome

A potentially fatal condition involving: hypothermia, muscle rigidity, dyspnea, CV symptoms, coma and death.

"Understanding Pharmacology" by MacDermott & Deglin (2000)

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