Risperdal (or risperidone)—which belongs to a class of drugs called atypical antipsychotics—is used to treat certain mental illnesses, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This medication works by restoring the balance of certain natural substances in the brain, and it helps people think more clearly and be present in everyday life again.
Use and Dosage
You should take Risperdal by mouth and with or without food, typically once or twice a day (as exactly instructed by your doctor). Exact dosage depends on your age, your underlying medical condition, initial response to treatment, and other medications you are taking. Therefore, it is important you tell your doctor about all of the medications and products you may be using.
In order to lower your risk of experiencing unwanted side effects, your doctor will likely start you on a low dose of the medication and then gradually increase your dose as needed. You should follow your doctor’s directions very carefully. Furthermore, you should take this medication regularly and at the same time every day to get the most benefit from it.
As with many new medications, Risperdal may produce some unwanted side effects. These side effects, however, do not typically outweigh the benefits of the medication. And if they persist or worsen, a simple discussion with your doctor may lead to an easy solution. Still, it is important to be aware of possible mild, more serious, and severe effects that may result from the medication:
- Mild Side Effects: Drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, drooling, nausea, tiredness, and weight gain
- Serious Side Effects: Muscle spasms, shaking, difficult swallowing, restlessness, marked changes in mood, fever, sore throat, and interrupted breathing during sleep
- Severe Side Effects: Fainting, severe dizziness, and seizures
If you experience any of the above mild side effects, which persist or worsen over time, simply talk to your doctor promptly. If you experience more serious effects, however, tell your doctor right away and if you experience severe effects, seek medical attention immediately.
In addition to the aforementioned effects, Risperdal may also make your blood sugar rise, which can worsen or even cause diabetes. If you notice any symptoms of an increase in blood sugar such as abnormal thirst or urination, tell your doctor right away. And if you already have diabetes, check your blood sugar and report back to your doctor regularly.
This medication may also (though rarely) cause a very serious and concerning condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Symptoms include fever, muscle stiffness/pain/or weakness, severe confusion or tiredness, sweating, dark urine, or an irregular heartbeat—if you experience any of these symptoms, get medical help immediately.
And finally, you can also have a very serious allergic reaction to this drug—though this seldom occurs, you should be aware of the symptoms, which include a rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and severe dizziness. And if you do experience any of these symptoms, you should again seek medical help right away.
Before Taking Risperdal…
It’s important you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication, as it can have very real effects on your life. Before you start taking Risperdal, you should first…
- Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, especially to paliperidone. This product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
- Discuss your medical history with your doctor, especially when it comes to a personal history of liver disease, seizures, difficulty swallowing, kidney disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, glaucoma, cataracts. Also consult your doctor about a personal or family history with diabetes, heart disease, or sleep apnea.
- Understand all of the drug’s effects and risks, as Risperdal can cause the aforementioned side effects, some of which (e.g., dizziness or drowsiness) hinder your ability to drive, use machinery, or perform any other activity that requires alertness. It can also cause you to sweat less, making you more likely to have a heat stroke. Therefore, you should avoid doing anything that may make you overheat (e.g., exercising in hot weather).