Antipsychotics Are Sometimes Useful In Treating Anxiety Disorders

The term antipsychotic refers to a large group of medications that are most often used to treat the psychotic symptoms found in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, they are also sometimes useful in treating anxiety disorders, particularly those which have proven resistant to more traditional medications like antidepressants.

While no antipsychotic medication is currently approved by the FDA to treat anxiety disorders, there is some scientific evidence that atypical antipsychotics (the newer class of antipsychotics) can help treat post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder when combined with SSRI antidepressants. There is also growing anecdotal evidence that these drugs may be beneficial for generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety.

Unfortunately, antipsychotic drugs have some significant side effects that cause many people to stop taking them even when they are working to treat symptoms of mental illness. Some of the common or more serious side effects of antipsychotic drugs include type 2 diabetes, weight gain, heart attack, tardive dyskinesia, seizures, dysphoria, sexual dysfunction, dry mouth, visual disturbance, sedation, and extrapyramidal side effects (movement disorders).

While the dosages of antipsychotics needed to treat anxiety may be low enough to decrease the risk of some side effects, they are still a possibility and should be considered carefully before beginning treatment with one of these medications.

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