Schizophrenia - Typical and Atypical Drugs

Professor Jeffrey Lieberman discusses the differences between typical and atypical drugs that are used to treat schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders are treated principally by a class of medications called anti-psychotic drugs. These medications act principally by blocking the stimulation of dopamine receptors by the neurotransmitter dopamine. There are two main classes of anti-psychotic drugs. One is called the first generation, or typical, or conventional anti-psychotic drugs, and the second is called the second generation or atypical anti-psychotic drugs. The difference between these two, even though they both have similar properties and act as anti-psychotics, is that the newer medicines do not produce the disabling neurologic side-effects like stiffness, and slowness and tremor that the first generation drugs produced. In addition, they have a much lower affinity for dopamine receptors so they're kinder, gentler pharmacological agents as opposed to the very potent high-affinity dopamine receptor antagonist that the first generations are. And then thirdly, they may be a little better in some ways terms of their therapeutic efficacy. They alleviate symptoms better, they prevent relapse, and they may work on a broader range of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

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