Risperidone, the general form of the Risperdal drug, belongs to a class of drugs called atypical antipsychotics. It works by changing the activity of dopamine and other natural chemicals in the brain.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals produces risperidone, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Risperdal in 2002 for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults and young men under the age of 13 years. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can cause people to lose interest in life and develop abnormal thoughts and emotions.
In 2003, the FDA also approved Risperdal for short-term treatment of adults and children 10 years of age and older with bipolar disorder who experience mania or episodes of unusually excited moods. Doctors can also prescribe a drug to treat mixed episodes that cause people to experience symptoms of both mania and depression. In 2008, the FDA approved the first forms of risperidone tablets.
Doctors can also prescribe risperidone children between the ages of 5 and 16 with autism. The drug can relieve symptoms that include aggression, self-harm and sudden mood changes.
Medical data do not indicate whether the drug is safe and effective in young children.
What are the key things I need to know about risperidone (Risperdal)?
Before taking risperidone, you should be aware of several important warnings:
- Anyone with dementia should not take risperidone. Elderly people with dementia who take risperidone or other medicines for mental illness are at greater risk of dying during treatment. They also face an increased risk of developing a stroke or a mini-stroke.
- Risperidone can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). This can happen even if you do not have diabetes before starting treatment. High blood sugar, which is not treated, can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.
- If you have schizophrenia, you have a high risk of developing diabetes. Receiving risperidone can further increase this risk.
- Risperidone can make it difficult to regulate body temperature.
- Risperidone can make you dizzy, so do not get up too quickly after lying down.
- If you have phenylketonuria, it is important to understand that oral disintegrating tablets of risperidone contain phenylalanine.
Is there anything special that I should discuss with my doctor before taking risperidone (Risperdal)?
Risperidone can cause certain side effects and can interfere with many medications. If you have certain medical conditions, take risperidone with caution. Always tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, and discuss the risks and benefits of risperidone.
Tell your doctor if you are using or have ever used illegal or “street” drugs, or if you are drinking. Also tell your doctor if you have ever abused prescription drugs.
Your doctor should also know whether you have ever had serious side effects from medications for the treatment of mental illness.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant. Risperidone can harm newborns immediately after birth. This is especially true if women take the drug during the last few months of pregnancy.
Your doctor should also know if you can get pregnant and breastfeed. Women who breastfeed should not take risperidone or stop breastfeeding.
Also tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Problems with swallowing
- Mammary cancer
- Thoracic pain
- High or low blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Heart attack
- Kidney or liver disease
Elderly people with liver disease or low blood pressure should receive a lower initial dose of risperidone.
Side Effects of risperidone
Common side effects of risperidone (Risperdal) include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Increased saliva secretion
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain
- More frequent dreams
- Problems with sleep
- Problems with sex
- Unusual production of breast milk
- Eye problems
- Pain in muscles or joints
- Dry or discolored skin
- Problems with urination
Serious side effects may also occur with risperidone. If you have any of these side effects, immediately consult your doctor:
- Frequent or irregular heartbeat
- Abnormal movements of your face or body that you can not control
- Slow Motion
- Unpleasant breathing or swallowing
- Painful erection, which lasts for hours
Do other drugs affect the work of risperidone?
Many drugs can interfere with the work of risperidone, and the drug may also interfere with other medications. It is very important that your doctor knows everything that you are taking, including illegal drugs and any over-the-counter medications, herbs and supplements.
Types of drugs that interact with risperidone (Risperdal) include:
- Antidepressants, such as paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac)
- Heartburn medications such as ranitidine (Zantac) and cimetidine (Tagamet)
- Some drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, including dopamine agonists, bromocriptine (Parlodel), cabergoline (dopex) and levodopa (Dopar, Larodopa)
- Some drugs used to treat high blood pressure
- Anti-seizure drugs such as carbamazepine (Tegretol), phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton) and phenytoin (Dilantin)
- Other drugs from mental illnesses, including clozapine (Clozaril)
- Some antibiotics, such as rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
- Sedatives, hypnotics and tranquilizers
Should I avoid any food, drink or activity when taking risperidone?
Risperidone can make you feel sleepy. Do not drive until you know how the drug will affect you. Drinking alcohol can make you feel even more tired, so it’s important to avoid drinking alcohol when taking this medication.
Dosage of risperidone
What is a typical dose of risperidone?
Risperidone is released as a tablet, liquid and a disintegrating tablet that dissolves in the mouth.
Tablets have different dosages, including 0.25 mg (mg), 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg and 4 mg.
At first, your doctor will probably prescribe a low dose, but then gradually increase or decrease, as your body adapts to the medicine. You will most likely take risperidone once or twice a day, at about the same time every day. You can take it with you or without food. However, do not take risperidone’s liquid form with tea or soda. Instead, use water, orange juice, coffee or low-fat milk.
Remove the dissolving tablets from the packaging by tearing the outer foil. Put the tablet on your tongue and swallow it. You can take them with liquid, but do not chew or crush them.
What happens if I take too much risperidone?
Prinimitersperidone is exactly the same as your doctor prescribed. Symptoms of overdose may include:
- Severe or irregular heartbeat
- Stomach upset
- Unclear vision
If you or someone has symptoms of an overdose, call the local poison control center.
What happens if I skip a dose of risperidone or not take it as prescribed?
Risperidone can help control your symptoms, but it’s not a cure for your condition. In addition, you may need several weeks or even more so that you can take full advantage of the drug.
Do not stop taking risperidone without talking to your doctor about it, even if you are feeling well. If you suddenly stop taking risperidone, your symptoms may return. And suddenly stopping your medication can also complicate your illness.
If you accidentally miss a dose of risperidone, take it as soon as you remember. If it’s time for the next dose, skip it and wait to take the next scheduled dose. Do not take two doses of risperidone at the same time to compensate for the missed dose.