Ziprasidone, which belongs to a group of drugs called atypical antipsychotics, is used to treat certain mental and mood disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This medication helps one think more clearly and positively, actively engage in everyday life, and feel less agitated.

Use and Dosage

You should take Ziprasidone by mouth and with food (as instructed by your doctor), typically twice a day. The exact dosage, however, differs from person-to-person, depending on one’s medical condition and initial response to treatment. Your doctor may start you on a low dosage to reduce the chance of experiencing unwanted side effects, but then gradually increase it. It is important you follow their instructions carefully and take the medication exactly as prescribed.

You should never abruptly stop taking Ziprasidone—even if you start to feel better. Instead, talk to your doctor about your interest in no longer taking the medicine and he or she will gradually wean you off of it to avoid potential side effects. Until you have this conversation, take Ziprasidone regularly and at the same time every day. And if your condition persists or worsens, tell your doctor promptly.

Side Effects

As with many medications, Ziprasidone may cause some unwanted side effects. These effects, however, do not usually outweigh the benefits of the medication. Remember: Your doctor is aware of these potential side effects and still believes Ziprasidone is right for you. Though, if you do experience unwanted side effects and they persist or worsen, you should have a discussion with your doctor about possible remedies or other treatment options. The following are mild, serious, and severe effects that may result from Ziprasidone:

  1. Mild Side Effects
    • Drowsiness
    • Dizziness
    • Lightheadedness
    • Weakness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Couch
    • Runny nose
  2. Serious Effects
    • Difficulty swallowing
    • Muscle spasms
    • Shaking
    • Changes in mood (e.g., restlessness)
    • Stunted breathing during sleep
    • Vision changes
  3. Severe Effects
    • Severe dizziness
    • Seizures
    • Fainting
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Abdominal pain
    • Yellowing eyes or skin

Patients very rarely experience serious or severe side effects. But if you do experience serious effects, you should tell your doctor right away and seek out medical treatment immediately if you experience any of the more severe effects.

In addition to the side effects listed above, Ziprasidone can also cause blood sugar to rise (though very rarely), which can worsen or even cause diabetes. Therefore, you should tell your doctor if you have symptoms of high blood sugar like increased thirst or urination. And if you already have diabetes, it’s important you keep tabs on your blood sugar and regularly discuss it with your doctor, as they may need to adjust your diabetes medication or your diet.

Ziprasidone can also cause tardive dyskinesia, as signified by unusual and uncontrolled movements (e.g., of your face, mouth, arms, or legs), and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Tell your doctor if you experience any involuntary movements as mentioned above, and seek medical help immediately if you experience symptoms of NMS, which include muscle stiffness and pain, severe confusion or tiredness, dark urine, and a fast or irregular heartbeat.

Finally, this medication may also cause a very serious allergic reaction. Discuss your allergies with your doctor before starting Ziprasidone and get medical help if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These include swollen lymph nodes, fever, rash, itches or swelling, and difficulty breathing.

Before Taking Ziprasidone…

It’s important you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication. Before you start taking Ambien, you should first…

  • Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, as this product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Discuss your medical history, especially if you have a personal or family history of dementia, seizures, low white blood cell count, difficulty swallowing, heart disease, sleep apnea, or diabetes.
  • Understand all of the drug’s effects and risks, as Ziprasidone can cause the aforementioned side effects and conditions, as well as another condition that affects heart rhythm—this particular condition can then (though rarely) cause a fast or irregular heartbeat and other severe symptoms that require immediate medical attention. Effects such as dizziness and drowsiness also hinder your ability to drive, use machinery, and perform any other activity that requires normal alertness; therefore, they need to be understood and dealt with properly.