Wallie Yancey

Written by Wallie Yancey

Modified & Updated: 07 Mar 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

Source: Verywellmind.com

Antipsychotic medications, also known as neuroleptics, are commonly prescribed to manage various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression with psychotic features. These medications work by altering the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain, helping to alleviate symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thinking.

Understanding the key facts about antipsychotics is crucial for individuals who may be prescribed these medications, as well as for their families and caregivers. From their mechanism of action to potential side effects, gaining insight into these medications can empower individuals to make informed decisions about their mental health treatment.

In this article, we will delve into seven essential facts about antipsychotics, shedding light on their uses, benefits, and considerations. Whether you are seeking to expand your knowledge or are navigating the complexities of antipsychotic treatment, this comprehensive guide aims to provide valuable insights into these important medications.

Key Takeaways:

  • Antipsychotics help manage severe mental health conditions by regulating neurotransmitters in the brain. They have two main classes, typical and atypical, each with different benefits and side effects.
  • Antipsychotics are not just for psychosis; they can also treat anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and severe depression. Close monitoring is crucial to address potential side effects and ensure the most suitable treatment.
Table of Contents

Antipsychotics: Unveiling the Essential Facts

Antipsychotics, also known as neuroleptics, are a class of medication primarily used to manage psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, and disordered thinking. These medications are commonly prescribed to individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. Antipsychotics work by altering the effects of neurotransmitters in the brain, helping to regulate and stabilize mental health conditions.

Antipsychotics Have Two Main Classes

There are two primary classes of antipsychotic medications: typical and atypical. Typical antipsychotics, also referred to as first-generation antipsychotics, were the first to be developed and are known for their effectiveness in treating positive symptoms of psychosis. On the other hand, atypical antipsychotics, or second-generation antipsychotics, are newer and are often favored due to their reduced risk of causing movement disorders, a common side effect of typical antipsychotics.

Antipsychotics Can Cause Side Effects

While antipsychotics are instrumental in managing severe mental health conditions, they are not without potential side effects. Common side effects include weight gain, drowsiness, dizziness, and an increased risk of diabetes and high cholesterol. It is crucial for individuals taking antipsychotic medications to undergo regular health check-ups to monitor and address any emerging side effects.

Antipsychotics Require Close Monitoring

When initiating antipsychotic treatment, close monitoring is essential to assess the medication's effectiveness and any adverse reactions. Healthcare providers typically conduct regular evaluations to determine the optimal dosage and monitor the individual's response to the medication. This close monitoring helps to ensure that the individual receives the most suitable treatment for their specific mental health needs.

Antipsychotics Are Not Only for Psychosis

While antipsychotics are primarily associated with managing psychosis, they are also utilized in treating other mental health conditions. These versatile medications are often prescribed to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even as an adjunct treatment for severe depression that has not responded to other interventions.

Antipsychotics May Impact Metabolic Health

Individuals taking antipsychotic medications should be mindful of their metabolic health. Some antipsychotics are associated with an increased risk of weight gain, which can contribute to metabolic syndrome and other health concerns. It is crucial for healthcare providers to closely monitor metabolic indicators and collaborate with individuals to mitigate potential adverse effects on their overall well-being.

Antipsychotics Are Not Addictive

Unlike some other classes of medication, antipsychotics are not addictive. This characteristic is reassuring for individuals undergoing long-term treatment, as it reduces the risk of developing dependence on the medication. However, it is important for individuals to adhere to their prescribed dosage and not abruptly discontinue the medication without consulting their healthcare provider to prevent potential withdrawal effects.

Antipsychotics play a pivotal role in managing a spectrum of mental health conditions, offering individuals the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives despite the challenges posed by their conditions. Understanding the essential facts about antipsychotics empowers individuals and their support networks to make informed decisions and actively participate in their mental health care journey. Through ongoing research and advancements in medication development, the landscape of antipsychotic treatment continues to evolve, offering hope and improved outcomes for individuals navigating complex mental health conditions.


In conclusion, antipsychotic medications play a crucial role in managing various mental health conditions, offering relief to individuals experiencing psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other related disorders. Understanding the potential side effects, benefits, and considerations associated with antipsychotics is essential for both patients and caregivers. It's important to approach the use of these medications with a comprehensive understanding of their impact and to work closely with healthcare professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes.


What are the common side effects of antipsychotic medications?
Common side effects of antipsychotics may include weight gain, drowsiness, dizziness, and increased risk of diabetes. It's important to discuss potential side effects with a healthcare provider to address any concerns and monitor for adverse reactions.

How long does it take for antipsychotic medications to show results?
The timeframe for experiencing the effects of antipsychotic medications can vary depending on individual factors and the specific medication prescribed. While some individuals may notice improvements within a few days, it can take several weeks for the full benefits of the medication to become apparent. It's crucial to follow the prescribed treatment plan and communicate any concerns or changes in symptoms with a healthcare provider.

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