Module 10 - Medications and other Physical Treatments

Antipsychotic Medications


Antipsychotic medications are also known as neuroleptics or major tranquilizers These are prescribed by medical practitioners such as general practitioners and psychiatrists for all the psychotic disorders regardless of their cause. They are also often prescribed to manage difficult behaviours but research has shown they usually don’t work unless the behaviours are caused by a specific illness. This medication may also be used in mood disorders such as mania or severe depression, particularly if psychotic features are present.


Antipsychotics work by affecting how the nerves in specific parts of the brain communicate with one another. They do this by blocking the effect of certain chemicals that are needed for the nerves to communicate. The old or ‘typical’ antipsychotics are thought to work by blocking the receptors for the chemical dopamine in the brain. The newer ‘atypical’ antipsychotics act at serotonin and oher receptors in addition to dopamine receptor blockade.


In 70% of people with psychotic symptoms this type of medication can reduce or eliminate the psychotic phenomena (hallucinations and delusions). 
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