FAQ

Are all antipsychotic drugs in tablet form or are there other forms of administration?

All antipsychotics do have a tablet form, but some can be administered by oil-based slow-release injection into a muscle termed "depot" injection. Some antipsychotics are also available as syrups.

More information about what drugs are available in the UK can be found on the NHS website: http://nhs.medguides.medicines.org.uk/NHS/condition.aspx?condition=Schizophrenia.

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How quickly do antipsychotics act once taken?

This depends on how they are administered. Depot injection takes effect within an hour, and tablets or syrups take around three hours. However, it may take days or a few weeks to see any change in some of the positive symptoms such as hallucinations..

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What are the typical doses for antipsychotic drugs?

Doses are kept as low as possible in order to reduce side effects, but the dose is decided upon for each individual case by a psychiatrist and can be reviewed daily. This is to find the best solution possible for each patient. Chlorpromazine, for example, can be given in doses raging from 75mg to 1000mg a day. The British National Formulary provides maximum dosage limits for most of the antipsychotics.

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How easy is it to come off antipsychotics?

Once prescribed, a treatment is usually sustained for a long period of time. Most patients remain on them, however some can very gradually start to reduce the dosage in order to prevent rapid relapse or withdrawal, although this is only approved by a psychiatrist in select few cases.

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What drugs are used in a psychiatric emergency?

Rapid tranquilisation is only used when a patient's psychoses become a hazard to themselves or others, and in this case antipsychotics are administered by injection. Clopixol Acuphase and olanzapine are often used for this purpose. To avoid using high does, an antipsychotic is usually coupled with a benzodiazepine tranquiliser such as lorazepam

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What alternatives are available to antipsychotics?

Schizophrenia is most effectively treated with antipsychotics and coupled with other treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy. Other treatments can include, art, music and dance therapy,  complementary therapies such as homoeopathy, and there are many self-help groups and other talking treatments.

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