Risperdal (A complete review)

Risperdal, generic name risperidone, is a medication used to treat mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and Tourette’s syndrome. 

In this article, you will learn what Risperdal is used to treat, how it works, common side effects, and other important information regarding usage. 

Mental disorders are debilitating and can greatly impede upon one’s ability to function in daily life.

Fortunately, there are many approved treatments that help alleviate symptoms associated with these disorders. 

What is Risperdal?

RIsperdal (generic name risperidone) is a medication used to treat mental disorders including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, and irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder. 

Risperdal is part of the atypical antipsychotic class of drugs. It can decrease hallucinations, improve concentration, and help “defog” the brain.

This medication can also help you think more clearly and positively about yourself, reduce nervousness, and can reduce the severity and frequency of mood swings. 

Who should take Risperdal?

People who are diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, or depression may be prescribed Risperdal. 

Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and activity levels, and severely interferes with everyday life. 

Symptoms of bipolar disorder include both manic and depressive episodes.

Signs of a manic episode are: 

·      Feeling very “up” or elated

·      Increased energy and activity levels

·      Feeling jumpy or wired 

·      Trouble sleeping (insomnia)

·      Talking very fast about a lot of different things

·      Agitation or irritability

·      Thoughts racing 

·      Think they can do a lot of things at once 

·      Taking risks such as spending a lot of money or having reckless sex 

The following are symptoms of a depressive episode: 

·      Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness 

·      Very low energy and activity levels 

·      Trouble sleeping (either sleeping too much or too little) 

·      Loss of enjoyment in hobbies or activities

·      Feelings of worry 

·      Trouble concentrating and trouble remembering things 

·      Changes in appetite (either eating too much or too little)

·      Feeling sluggish 

·      Thoughts of death or suicide

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, seek help immediately. 

There are two main types of bipolar disorder: Bipolar I Disorder and Bipolar II Disorder. 

Bipolar I Disorder is defined by manic episodes that last at least 7 days, or severe manic symptoms that require immediate hospitalization.

Depressive episodes occur as well and usually last at least 2 weeks.

Bipolar I Disorder patients may also have mixed episodes with both manic and depressive symptoms simultaneously. 

Bipolar II Disorder is characterized by a pattern of depressive episodes and hypomanic episodes.

Hypomanic episodes have some features of typical manic episodes, but are not severe enough to be considered manic. 

People who are diagnosed with schizophrenia may also be treated with Risperdal.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder characterized by abnormal perception of reality.

Symptoms involve hallucinations, delusions, disordered thinking and behavior that hinders one’s ability to function in daily life. 

Doctors may also prescribe Risperdal to patients with Tourette’s syndrome.

Tourette’s syndrome is a disorder of the nervous system that causes people to make involuntary movements or sounds, also called tics.

Some people with Tourette’s might blink repeatedly or may blurt out words uncontrollably.  

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a mood disorder that causes feelings of worthlessness and loss of interest in daily activities.

Common symptoms of MDD are as follows: 

·      Chronic feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness

·      Loss of interest in activities that once used to bring enjoyment (i.e., sex, hobbies) 

·      Outbursts of anger 

·      Irritability

·      Frustration

·      Issues with sleeping too much or insomnia

·      Lack of energy and fatigue 

·      Changes in eating patterns and weight (i.e., increased appetite and weight gain or reduced appetite and weight loss)

·      Anxiety

·      Agitation

·      Restlessness

·      Slowed speaking, thinking, and movement 

·      Feelings of worthlessness 

·      Ruminating on past failures

·      Feelings of guilt 

·      Trouble concentrating, making proper decisions, and remembering things 

·      Physical problems such as back pain or headaches that cannot be explained by another medical condition 

To get more insight into depression, click here. 

How does Risperdal work? 

It is unknown how exactly Risperdal works to relieve symptoms of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, depression, and irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder.

However, experts believe that it mimics the activity of dopamine and serotonin, which are two of the brain’s major neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the brain that relay information from one neuron to the next to regulate all of our behaviors.

Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters heavily involved in the reward center of the brain, and serotonin is a master regulator of sleep, appetite, and mood.

Deficits in the dopamine system have also been implicated in psychotic and movement disorders.

What are the common side effects of Risperdal?

There are many side effects that may occur with Risperdal.

Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: 

·      Dizziness

·      Lightheadedness

·      Drowsiness

·      Gastrointestinal problems (i.e., nausea, vomiting, or constipation)

·      Excessive tiredness

·      Excess saliva or drooling

·      Blurry vision

·      Weight gain

·      Headache

·      Trouble sleeping 

If you experience any of the following more serious side effects from Risperdal, notify your doctor immediately and seek emergency medical care: 

·      Fainting

·      Changes in mood or mental state (i.e., increased anxiety, depression, or thoughts of suicide)

·      Difficulty swallowing

·      Shaking or tremor

·      Restlessness in limbs, usually the legs

·      Muscle spasms

·      Mask-like facial expression 

·      Seizures

·      Trouble controlling addictive urges such as gambling, sex, eating or shopping

·      Breathing interruptions during sleep 

What is other important information I should know about taking Risperdal? 

A rare and potentially fatal condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) has been reported with Risperdal along with other atypical antipsychotics.

This disease causes muscle rigidity, hyperpyrexia (extremely high fever), fast heartbeat (tachycardia), diaphoresis (excessive sweating), irregular pulse or blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms (cardiac dysrhythmia), and altered mental status. 

Long-term treatment with Risperdal and other atypical antipsychotics can lead to the development of tardive dyskinesia (TD).

TD is a movement disorder that is characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements which usually include eye blinking, grimacing, or lip smacking.

This syndrome may be reversible if treatment with the antipsychotic is ceased. 

If you are taking Risperdal, it is imperative that your doctor monitors your weight and blood sugar consistently.

Patients taking Risperdal or other atypical antipsychotics have developed hyperglycemia (high blood sugar).

Orthostatic hypotension is associated with Risperdal. This is a condition where blood pressure drops upon standing. 

Risperdal has been associated with leukopenia, neutropenia, and agranulocytosis.

These terms indicate a problem with the white blood cells of the immune system.

Patients with a history of clinically significant low white blood cell (WBC) count or drug-induced leukopenia/neutropenia should have their complete blood count (CBC) monitored frequently in the beginning of Risperdal therapy.

Risperdal treatment should be discontinued immediately upon the first sign of a clinically significant decrease in WBC count in the absence of other potential causative factors. 

It is important to avoid alcohol while taking Risperdal. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Risperdal: 

1.   What is Risperdal used for? 

RIsperdal (generic name risperidone) is a medication used to treat mental disorders including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, and irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder.
 
Risperdal is part of the atypical antipsychotic class of drugs. It can decrease hallucinations, improve concentration, and help “defog” the brain.

This medication can also help you think more clearly and positively about yourself, reduce nervousness, and can reduce the severity and frequency of mood swings. 

2. Is Risperdal dangerous?

There are many side effects of taking Risperdal, as is the case with all antipsychotic medications.

Movement disorders are one of the most debilitating side effects of this medication.

Risperdal has been shown to produce gynecomastia, which is a condition where men grow breast tissue (see recommended readings section). 

3.   Does Risperdal help with anxiety?

It has been shown in clinical studies that Risperdal can be an effective treatment for bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and maybe anxiety disorders.

Using Risperdal as a treatment for anxiety disorders is an “off-label” use of this medication. 

4.   How long does it take for Risperdal to kick in?

It usually takes about 4-6 weeks for Risperdal to start to take its full effect. 

5.  Does Risperdal cause fatigue?

Fatigue is one of the common side effects of Risperdal.

The most common side effects of Risperdal are nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, uncontrolled movements (akathisia) and restlessness.

7.                 What happens if you stop Risperdal abruptly?

You should not stop taking Risperdal without talking to your doctor.

If Risperdal is discontinued “cold-turkey”, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, including insomnia. 

Want to learn more about Risperdal? Try these books!

The Risperdal Debacle: How Johnson & Johnson’s Antipsychotic Sparked a Mini-Epidemic of Gynecomastia

This book discusses the horrific situation where men taking Johnson & Johnson Risperdal developed gynecomastia.

This is a condition where men grow breast tissue, which can result in self esteem issues among other problems. 

I am not in recovery. I am in discovery: Journaling my mental illness

Journaling is a great way to help process and keep track of your experiences and feelings while you are going through the life-altering symptoms of a mental disorder including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, or irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder.

This journal contains 94 daily templates to aid in your discovery process. 

This blog article should have given you a thorough overview on what Risperdal is prescribed for and how it works to treat mental disorders including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, Tourette’s syndrome, and irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder. This article also discussed the precautions regarding treatment with Risperdal. 

The Mindfulness Journal: Daily Practices, Writing Prompts, and Reflections for Living in the Present Moment

As described above, journaling is a great way to give yourself a stress release.

Whether you are dealing with mental health issues, heartbreak, a problem at work, or any other life stressor, this journal is for you.

This Mindfulness Journal can easily be added into your daily routine and can serve as an outlet for stress-reduction that will help you appreciate every single day and moment.

It includes 365 daily writing prompts divided into 52 weekly mindfulness topics. The prompts are extremely unique, fun, and engaging, so you will never get bored while journaling.

Additionally, each prompt is on its own separate page so you will have more than enough room for reflection and to write down all of your thoughts, big or small.

Although it is suggested to journal once a day, you can spend as much or as little time as you want on each prompt. 

More questions or comments about Risperdal? Post below!

 Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness

What we recommend for Schizophrenia

Professional counselling

If you have Schizophrenia, then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will allow you to practice various habits that improve your overall quality of life.

References

Risperdal. WebMD.  

Bipolar Disorder.National Institute of Mental Health. April 2016. 

Schizophrenia.Mayo Clinic. April 10th, 2018. 

Tourette’s Syndrome.WebMD. 2019. 

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