Zyprexa (A complete review)

Zyprexa is an antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

What is Zyprexa?

Zyprexa is an antipsychotic medication that is used to treat psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). The generic name for Zyprexa is olanzapine. Zyprexa should not be prescribed to children under 13 years old. 

Zyprexa is an atypical or second generation antipsychotic and works by restoring the balance of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. Experts believe that Zyprexa mimics the activity of dopamine and serotonin, which are two of the brain’s major neurotransmitters that are important in regulating mood, pleasure, thinking, and behavior. 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. 

Who is prescribed Zyprexa?

People who are diagnosed with schizophrenia may also be treated with Zyprexa. 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. Many people confuse dissociative identity disorder with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder are both serious mental health disorders that involve different symptoms and different treatments. 

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. 

Zyprexa can also be used in combination with other antidepressants or antipsychotics. 

What is some important information I should know before taking Zyprexa?

If you are taking Zyprexa for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, it may take several weeks before your symptoms start to improve. Keep taking the medication as directed. Consult your doctor if your symptoms do not improve, or if they worsen. 

You should not stop taking Zyprexa without direction from your doctor. Stopping Zyprexa suddenly may cause unpleasant withdrawal effects. 

People, especially elderly people, with dementia-related psychosis should not take Zyprexa or other antipsychotic medications. Zyprexa can increase the risk of death in these patients. 

Long-term treatment with Zyprexa 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 Zyprexa, it is imperative that your doctor monitors your weight and blood sugar consistently. Patients taking Zyprexa or other atypical antipsychotics have developed hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). In addition, people taking Zyprexa, especially teenagers, may develop high cholesterol or triglycerides. 

Zyprexa has both risks and benefits. Talk to your doctor about your concerns so that he or she can make sure that you are getting the treatment that is right for you.

It is common to become hot or dehydrated when you are taking Zyprexa. Drink a lot of fluids, particularly in hot weather and while exercising. 

Zyprexa may impair your thoughts or reactions. Do not drive or do anything that requires alertness until you know how Zyprexa affects you. Avoid alcohol while taking Zyprexa. In addition, do not get up too fast from a sitting or lying down position because you may feel dizzy. 

You should not take Zyprexa if you are allergic to olanzapine.

It is imperative to tell your doctor if you have ever had any of the following conditions: 

  • liver disease
  • heart disease, high or low blood pressure
  • low white blood cell (WBC) counts
  • high cholesterol or triglycerides 
  • heart failure, heart attack, or stroke
  • breast cancer
  • seizures or epilepsy
  • diabetes
  • an enlarged prostate or difficulty urinating
  • bowel problems
  • narrow-angle glaucoma

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication. If you take an antipsychotic medication during the last 3 months of pregnancy, your newborn is at risk for experiencing problems. These include withdrawal symptoms, breathing problems, feeding problems, fussiness, tremors, and limp or stiff muscles. Zyprexa can pass into breast milk and may harm a nursing baby. Do not breastfeed while taking Zyprexa. 

The Zyprexa tablet may contain phenylalanine. If you have phenylketonuria (PKU), a genetic condition that affects the breakdown of the amino acid phenylalanine, tell your doctor right away. 

What are the side effects of Zyprexa? 

Common side effects of Zyprexa include the following:

·      Low blood pressure

·      Drowsiness 

·      Extrapyramidal symptoms (muscle-related side effects: restlessness, tremor, and stiffness)

·      Headache

·      Fatigue

·      Dizziness

·      Insomnia

·      Increased prolactin

·      Weight gain 

·      Increased appetite

·      Dry mouth

·      Indigestion

·      Constipation

·      Liver function test abnormalities

·      Accidental injury 

Zyprexa can increase the blood levels of the hormone prolactin. This is rare but can occur. Side effects of increased prolactin levels include females losing their period (amenorrhea), production of breastmilk, loss of sex drive in males, and erectile problems. 

Some other rare side effects of Zyprexa include bladder pain, bloody or cloudy urine, bruising, burning, crawling, itching, numbness, prickling, “pins and needles”, or tingling feelings, chest pain, difficulty breathing, loss of memory, and weakness in arms and legs. Click here for a complete list of the rare side effects of Zyprexa. 

Does Zyprexa interact with other medications? 

Many drugs interact with Zyprexa. The following is a list of drugs that have major interactions with Zyprexa. Tell your doctor if you are taking any of these medications:

·      alfentanil

·      buprenorphine

·      bupropion

·      butorphanol

·      chlordiazepoxide

·      clonazepam

·      clorazepate

·      clozapine

·      codeine

·      deutetrabenazine

·      dezocine

·      diazepam

·      fentanyl

·      hydrocodone

·      hydromorphone

·      iohexol

·      iopamidol

·      levomethadyl acetate

·      levorphanol

·      lorazepam

·      meperidine

·      methadone

·      metoclopramide

·      metrizamide

·      midazolam

·      morphine

·      morphine liposomal

·      nalbuphine

·      oxycodone

·      oxymorphone

·      pentazocine

·      potassium chloride

·      potassium citrate

·      propoxyphene

·      remifentanil

·      sodium oxybate

·      sufentanil

·      tapentadol

·      tetrabenazine

·      topiramate

·      tramadol

·      zonisamide

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 Bipolar disorder

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from Bipolar disorder then ongoing professional counselling could be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about Zyprexa: 

1.    What is Zyprexa used for?

Zyprexa is an antipsychotic medication that is used to treat psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression). The generic name for Zyprexa is olanzapine. Zyprexa should not be prescribed to children under 13 years old. 

2.    Does Zyprexa help with anxiety?

Zyprexa is not approved as a treatment for anxiety. It can decrease anxiety or agitation (i.e., racing thoughts) in people with bipolar disorder.

3.    Is Zyprexa a sedative?

Zyprexa is not prescribed as a sedative, however it does have sedative effects. 

4.    Does Zyprexa make you sleepy?

Zyprexa may cause sleepiness, as one of the most common side effects is drowsiness.

5.    Is Zyprexa a benzodiazepine?

No, Zyprexa is not a benzodiazepine. 

In this blog article, we discussed what Zyprexa is used for, how it works, and common and rare side effects. This is not intended to be a complete medication guide for Zyprexa. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, see your primary care physician or psychiatrist to discuss whether or not Zyprexa is right for you. 

Understanding Zyprexa: An Easy-to-Read Guide to Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Withdrawal, and More

This book by Thomas Hager discusses the risks and benefits of Zyprexa and why it is so controversial. You will learn how Zyprexa works, who should and shouldn’t use it, and what can go wrong. 

The Zyprexa Papers

If you are interested in a little drama regarding Zyprexa, this book is for you. Eli Lilly was illegally promoting the use of Zyprexa on children and the elderly and concealed that it has the potential to cause diabetes and other metabolic issues. Alaska lawyer Jim Gottstein gives a first-hand account on what really happened and includes details about a small group of psychiatric survivors and they spread the “Zyprexa Papers” across the internet. 

Take Charge of Bipolar Disorder: A 4-Step Plan for You and Your Loved Ones to Manage the Illness and Create Lasting Stability

This book by Julie Fast and John Preston is a great resource for people looking to manage their bipolar disorder with both conventional and nonconventional treatments such as acupuncture and other mind, body, and lifestyle interventions. People with bipolar disorder who have read this book say that it has given them hope for a brighter future. 

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

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

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. 


Zyprexa. Drugs.com. January 23rd, 2019. 

Olanzapine (Zyprexa). National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). 2020.