Side Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • Secondary parkinsonism is among the more serious side effects of antipsychotic drugs. It gets its name from Parkinson's disease, a neurological disorder where brain cells that produce the neurotransmitter are slowly destroyed. Over time this leads to loss of muscle function.


    Drugs such as Abilify, Risperdal, Seroquel and all the other antipsychotics may cause symptoms of Parkinson's disease including:

    • Softened voice
    • Stiffer muscles in torso, legs, arms
    • Tremor
    • Problems start or stopping movements like walking
    • Fewer facial expressions
    • Slow and shuffling walk

    There are a number of medications used to treat these parkinsonian symptoms, including L-dopa, Requip, Symmetrel and Cogentin.

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    If you are taking any antipsychotic medication, both you and your prescribing doctor should monitor you for symptoms of parkinsonism. They can be very subtle at first and you may not notice them yourself. For example, you are unlikely to notice if your arm swing while walking has gotten smaller and smaller, yet this can be an early symptom (it would change your gait over time). Your doctor should be trained to recognize the symptoms and should evaluate you for them periodically. If the doctor doesn't, ask him or her to do an evaluation.


    For more, see Secondary Parkinsonism at the National Institutes of Health.

Published On: November 13, 2011