RISPERIDONE (‘Risperidal’)
Ris – perry – done
Why have I been prescribed risperidone?
Risperidone is used to help treat schizophrenia, psychosis and many other similar conditions.
When they have schizophrenia, many people hear voices talking to them or about them. They may also become suspicious
or paranoid. Some people also have problems with their thinking and feel that other people can read their thoughts. These
are called "positive symptoms". Risperidone can help to relieve these symptoms. Many people with schizophrenia also
experience "negative symptoms". They feel tired and lacking in energy and may become quite inactive and withdrawn.
Risperidone may help relieve these symptoms as well.
Risperidone may also be prescribed for people who have had bad side effects with older types of medicines, such as
strange movements and shaking. Risperidone does not usually cause these effects. Older drugs may also increase levels
of the hormone prolactin. This can cause a loss of sexual drive and impotence and affect women’s periods. Risperidone
does not cause these effects.
What exactly is risperidone?
Risperidone is one of a group of medicines used to treat schizophrenia and similar disorders. These illnesses are
sometimes referred to as psychoses, hence the name given to this group of medicines which is the “antipsychotics”. They
are sometimes also called the neuroleptics or (incorrectly) major tranquillisers.
Risperidone is a newer type of antipsychotic. It may help people who have negative symptoms and have not got much
better on the older antipsychotics. Risperidone may also be better for people who have had bad side effects from the older
drugs. The trade or brand name for risperidone is ‘Risperdal’.
Is risperidone safe to take?
It is usually safe to have risperidone regularly as prescribed by your doctor, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Let your doctor
know if any of the following apply to you, as extra care may be needed:
a) if you have Parkinson's disease, or suffer from liver, kidney, or heart trouble;
b) if you are taking any other medication;
c) if you are pregnant, breast feeding, or wish to become pregnant.
What is the usual dose of risperidone?
The starting dose of risperidone is usually 2mg a day. The normal dose is between 4mg and 8mg a day. The maximum
dose of risperidone is 16mg a day.
How should I take risperidone?
Look at the label on your medicine; it should have all the necessary instructions on it. Follow this advice carefully. If you
have any questions, speak to your pharmacist, doctor or nurse. Most medicines are now dispensed with an information
leaflet for you to read.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
Never change your dose without checking with your doctor. If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember, as long
as it is within a few hours of the usual time.
When I feel better, can I stop taking risperidone?
No. If you stop taking risperidone your original symptoms may return, but this may not be for 3 to 6 months after you stop
the drug. You and your doctor should decide together when you can come off it. Most people need to be on risperidone for
quite a long time, sometimes years. This is not thought to be harmful. Risperidone is not addictive.
What will happen to me when I start taking risperidone?
Antipsychotics do not work straight away. For example, it may take several days or even weeks for some of the symptoms
to reduce. To begin with, most people find that this medication will help them feel more relaxed and calm. Later, after one
or two weeks, other symptoms should begin to improve.
Unfortunately, you might get some side effects before you start to feel any better. Most side effects should go away after a
few weeks. Look at the table over the page. It tells you what to do if you get any of the usual side effects. Not everyone will
get the side effects shown. There are many other possible side effects. Ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you are
worried about anything else that you think might be a side effect.
Side effect What is it? What should I do if it happens to me?
COMMON
HEADACHE When your head is painful and pounding. You can take aspirin or paracetamol for this.
HYPOTENSION A low blood pressure. You may feel faint
when you stand up.
Try not to stand up too quickly. If you feel dizzy, don’t drive. This
dizziness is not dangerous
RAISED
PROLACTIN
Prolactin is a natural chemical we all
have. High levels can affect periods in
women or cause impotence in men. It
may also cause breast tenderness and
milk secretion, in men as well as women.
This sometimes wears off in a few weeks, but discuss this with your
doctor anyway. It may be that a change in dose or different drug will
help.
RESTLESSNESS
or AGITATION
Being more on edge. Discuss relaxation methods you’re your doctor.
UNCOMMON
AKATHISIA You feel restless, unable to feel
comfortable unless you are moving.
Tell your doctor about this. It may be possible to change your drug
or dose, or give you something to reduce these feelings.
CONSTIPATION Feeling "bunged up" inside. You can't
pass a motion or stool.
Eat more fibre e.g. bran, fruit and vegetables. Do more walking.
Make sure you drink plenty of fluid. A mild laxative from a pharmacy
might help.
DROWSINESS Feeling sleepy or sluggish. It can last for
a few hours after taking your dose.
Don't drive or use machinery. Ask your doctor if you can take your
risperidone at a different time.
INSOMNIA Not being able to get to sleep at night. Discuss this with your doctor. He or she may change the time of
your dose.
MOVEMENT
DISORDERS
Feeling shaky or having a tremor. Your
neck may twist back. Your eyes and
tongue may move on their own.
Your doctor may be able to give you something for it. Alternatively,
your doctor can change your medication to one that doesn’t have
this side effect. This is more common at doses above 6mg a day.
WEIGHT GAIN Eating more and putting on weight,
especially just after you start taking
risperidone.
Avoid fatty foods like chocolate, crisps and fizzy drinks. A diet full of
vegetables and fibre will usually help, as will physical activities such
as walking. If it becomes a problem or you are worried, ask to see a
dietician.
RARE
BLURRED VISION Things look fuzzy and you can't focus
properly.
Don't drive. See your doctor if you are worried. You won't need
glasses.
NMS Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome includes
a high body temperature, muscle stiffness
and being unable to move.
It usually occurs within a few weeks of a dose change. Contact your
doctor immediately. Keep cool, with fans or cool water.
SKIN RASHES Blotches seen anywhere. Stop taking the risperidone and see your doctor now.
What about alcohol?
It is officially recommended that people taking risperidone should not drink alcohol. This is because both risperidone and alcohol can
cause drowsiness. If the two are taken at the same time, severe drowsiness can result. This can lead to falls or accidents. As well as this,
drinking alcohol often makes psychosis worse. Excessive drinking is especially likely to do this. Once people are used to taking
medication, they can sometimes drink alcohol in small amounts without any harm. Avoid alcohol altogether for the first one
or two months. After this, if you want a drink, try a glass of your normal drink and see how you feel. If this doesn’t make you
feel drowsy, then it is probably OK to drink small amounts. It pays to be very cautious because alcohol affects people in
different ways, especially when they are taking medication.
Don't stop taking your medication because you fancy a drink. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor,
pharmacist or nurse. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts. Never drink any alcohol and drive.
Remember, leaflets like this can only describe some of the effects of medication. You may find other
books or leaflets also useful. If you have access to the internet you may find a lot of information
there as well, but be careful, as internet based information is not always accurate.
2001 United Kingdom Psychiatric Pharmacy Group www.ukppg.org.uk
This leaflet is to help you understand about your medicine. It is not an official manufacturer's Patient Information Leaflet.
For more information call the UKPPG National Telephone Helpline, 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 020 7919 2999 or
visit www.nmhct.nhs.uk/pharmacy
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