Thioridazine is an antipsychotic medicine usually prescribed to treat schizophrenia. It’s part of the family of typical antipsychotics or first-generation antipsychotics. These drugs were first developed in the 1950s and tend to have sedative effects.

Thiorizadine is a relatively low-strength antipsychotic, especially compared to other medications like fluphenazine and haloperidol. There are positives and negatives to this strength difference. Highly potent antipsychotics are associated with extrapyramidal or involuntary side effects like spasms, jerky movements, rigidity, and restlessness. Extrapyramidal side effects can interfere with standard quality of life. Many patients who stop taking potent antipsychotics list these side effects as the main reason they stopped their medication.

People who take thioridazine have a low rate of extrapyramidal symptoms. However, this drug does have a higher rate of other side effects, including tiredness, low blood pressure, dry mouth, and more.

Thioridazine is an oral medicine that’s typically taken multiple times a day. Patients may take it anywhere from two to four times daily. Doctors usually start patients on a low dose and increase the amount over time.

How Does Thioridazine Work?

Thioridazine manages schizophrenia by interfering with the body’s dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter chemical that sends signals between your body’s nerve cells. Dopamine is sometimes called the “pleasure hormone” or “pleasure chemical” because it’s released when you do something that makes you feel good.

However, dopamine’s role in the body is more complicated than simply causing pleasure. This chemical is also associated with planning, interest levels, focus, learning, sleep, pain, and more. Having either too much or too little dopamine interferes with these functions.

Schizophrenia is associated with having excess dopamine levels in some parts of the brain. Too much of this hormone causes hallucinations and delusions. If your body has lower dopamine in other brain regions, this causes other schizophrenic symptoms like low interest, desire, and motivation.

Thioridazine blocks receptors in your brain from using dopamine. Since schizophrenic patients have too much dopamine, thioridazine helps them return to more typical levels. This causes symptoms like hallucinations and delusions to fade.

Thioridazine Precautions and Warnings

Thioridazine has serious side effects and warnings, so this medication is only used when the benefits are higher than the risks. Schizophrenia is a significant form of mental illness that can interfere with a patient’s functioning, safety, and quality of life. Thioridazine is prescribed when its side effects are less severe than the schizophrenic symptoms.

Thioridazine is known to interfere with normal heart rhythms called QT intervals. This medicine can cause QT intervals to become dangerously long, which can lead to cardiovascular emergencies and sudden death. Patients with heart problems or a family history of heart problems are often not good candidates for taking thioridazine. Your doctor will likely perform tests like bloodwork and ECGs before prescribing thioridazine. You may also need to repeat these tests during treatment.

Thioridazine is associated with other severe outcomes like non-reversible eye damage. Caution is recommended for patients who are in the third trimester of pregnancy or are breastfeeding, as it has an unknown impact on fetuses and infants.

You shouldn’t take thioridazine if you’re allergic to it or other medications like fluphenazine, chlorpromazine, or prochlorperazine. Also, let your doctor know about all the prescriptions, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, supplements, and other drugs you use, including alcohol. Thioridazine can cause adverse reactions with many other substances, including prescription drugs.

Thioridazine is not usually prescribed for patients over 65 years of age because of its cardiovascular side effects.

Side Effects of Thioridazine

Thioridazine has many known side effects. Antipsychotic drugs are associated with a range of mental and physical symptoms. Thioridazine causes lower rates of some side effects but higher rates of others.

Tell your doctor immediately if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives, fever, neck cramps, tightness in the neck or throat, trouble breathing or swallowing, or a rash. You should also contact your doctor if your tongue doesn’t go back into your mouth, you lose vision, your vision has a brown tint or your skin or eyes turn yellow.

Antipsychotics like thioridazine can cause extrapyramidal symptoms, also known as involuntary symptoms. These side effects are uncontrollable body movements and actions, including:

  • Restlessness
  • Slow movement
  • Tremors
  • Jerky, irregular movements
  • Muscle spasms and continuous contractions
  • Rigidity

 

Extrapyramidal symptoms can be short-term or recurring. Thioridazine has lower extrapyramidal side effects than more potent antipsychotic medications. However, some patients still experience these symptoms. Tell your doctor if you notice any of these signs.

Thioridazine has higher rates of these side effects compared to other antipsychotics:

Type of effect Symptoms
Antihistamine Sedation, tiredness, fatigue
Antiadrenergic Low blood pressure
Anticholinergic Dry mouth, constipation, blurry vision, confusion

 

Thioridazine also causes the following side effects:

  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Stuffy nose
  • Changes in skin or eye color
  • Swelling
  • Flat affect or blank facial expression
  • Strange dreams
  • Breast enlargement and breast milk production
  • Skipped menstrual periods
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Trouble urinating

Drug Interactions with Thioridazine

Thioridazine can interfere with many other medicines. Other substances can also keep your body from using thioridazine as it should. Tell your doctor about all the treatments and drugs you use.

The following medications can interact with thioridazine:

  • Antihistamines
  • Antidepressants
  • Atropine
  • Some antibiotics
  • Barbiturates
  • Epinephrine (found in the Epipen)
  • Ipratropium (found in Atrovent)
  • Anxiety and other mental health medications
  • Irritable bowel disease treatments
  • Medicine for Parkinson’s disease
  • Seizure medication
  • Ulcer medication
  • Narcotics
  • Sedatives
  • Tranquilizers
  • Hepatitis C treatments
  • Opioids (including pain medicine, cough medicine, and street drugs)
  • Alcohol
  • Cannabis
  • Sleeping pills
  • Muscle relaxers
  • Antihistamines

Strengths and Dosages of Thioridazine

Thioridazine comes in oral tablets to take by mouth. Most patients take thioridazine multiple times a day. Your doctor may start you with a low-dose prescription and gradually increase the amount you take over time.

Thioridazine tablets are available in 10 mg, 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg doses. Adult patients usually take between 200-800 mg daily.

Alternatives to Thioridazine

Yes, there are alternative schizophrenia treatments besides thioridazine. This medicine works by keeping the brain from using too much dopamine. Other drugs have a similar function.

Antipsychotics have a range of side effects depending on their strength. More potent antipsychotics are associated with more extrapyramidal, involuntary motion side effects. Less potent medicines like thioridazine have a higher occurrence of sedation, low blood pressure, and dry mouth.

These antipsychotic medicines include:

  • Adasuve
  • Compazine
  • Haldol
  • Loxitane
  • Moban
  • Navane
  • Permitil
  • Procomp
  • Promapar
  • Saphris
  • Stelazine
  • Trillion

Thioridazine FAQs

Why was I prescribed thioridazine?

Thioridazine is an antipsychotic used to treat the mental disease schizophrenia. This medicine keeps your brain from using too much dopamine. Dopamine is a vital messenger chemical, but having too much of it causes hallucinations and delusions. Your doctor gave you thioridazine to reduce these symptoms.

How does thioridazine compare to other antipsychotics?

All antipsychotics change how your body uses dopamine. Thioridazine is relatively low strength compared to other antipsychotics. It has a lower rate of some side effects but a higher rate of others. Thioridazine is less likely to cause uncontrollable body movements than other antipsychotics. However, it also causes more side effects like sedation, reduced blood pressure, dry mouth, and constipation.

Can I drink while taking thioridazine?

Ask your doctor about safe alcohol use while you’re on thioridazine. Both alcohol and thioridazine can cause tiredness, confusion, blurry vision, nausea, and other side effects. These substances also prevent you from safely driving vehicles and using large machinery. Some patients need to avoid alcohol entirely. Other people may be able to drink limited amounts in safe environments.

Can I take thioridazine while pregnant?

Thioridazine can be safe for some parts of pregnancy. However, this medicine is typically not recommended for use in the third trimester. It’s also not recommended for patients who are breastfeeding. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or do become pregnant while taking thioridazine. Other medications may be safer for you and your baby.

What is the cost of Thioridazine in America?

Thioridazine is available as a generic drug. Currently, there isn’t a name-brand version on the market. Ninety tablets of thioridazine cost between $50-90, depending on the strength.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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