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An Overview of Side Effects Caused by Typical Antipsychotics

George W. Arana, MD

Published: May 30, 2000

Article Abstract

Typical antipsychotics often combine efficacy in treating antipsychotic illnesses with a side effectprofile that can affect every system of the body and range from the annoying—photosensitivity andjaundice, for example—to the disabling—seizures and blindness, among others—to the potentiallyfatal—agranulocytosis and neuroleptic malignant syndrome. The side effects of conventional antipsychoticsare associated with effects at CNS transmission and receptor sites and appear in relation todose levels and potency of the drug. Characteristics of patients—including gender, age, and comorbidmedical illness—can make them more or less susceptible to particular antipsychotic side effects. Sideeffects influence patient quality of life and affect patient compliance with medications. This articlewill consider the physiologic systems affected by conventional neuroleptics, the sexual and reproductiveside effects of typical antipsychotics, and the central nervous side effects of the conventionalneuroleptics in the light of these concerns.

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