What Are Typical Antipsychotics?

Uses, Side Effects and Types

antipsychotic medications in hand
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Typical antipsychotics, sometimes referred to as first-generation antipsychotics, are the older medications used to treat psychotic symptoms. They were not called "typical" until the newer generation of these drugs came out, called atypical antipsychotics.

Brands of Typical Antipsychotics

Typical antipsychotics approved for use in the United States include:

Some of these antipsychotic medications are marketed in other countries under different brand names.

Uses of Typical Antipsychotics

Antipsychotics are used to treat psychotic symptoms that occur in bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia or psychotic depression, as well as psychosis from drug abuse. Some typical antipsychotics are rarely used to treat psychotic symptoms, including Compazine (prochlorperazine), which is used to treat nausea and vomiting, as well as schizophrenia and anxiety without psychosis.

Antipsychotics are usually used in combination with other medications, such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications or mood stabilizers.

Specific Side Effects of Typical Antipsychotics

Typical antipsychotics can be very effective, but they are more likely, and in some cases highly likely, than the atypical, or second-generation, antipsychotics to cause extrapyramidal side effects and tardive dyskinesia.

Extrapyramidal side effects include rigid muscles, a feeling of restlessness, tremors, slurred speech, slowed thinking and/or moving and involuntary muscle contractions.


Tardive dyskinesia may occur when you've been on an antipsychotic for a long time. It involves involuntary facial movements that are repeated over and over, like sticking out your tongue, grimacing or making chewing motions.  

Common Side Effects of Typical Antipsychotics

More common side effects of antipsychotics in general include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Low blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Low white blood count
  • Dry mouth
  • Tics and tremors
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Feeling restless
  • Constipation

FDA-Approved Atypical Antipsychotics

As mentioned earlier, atypical antipsychotics are the newer, second-generation of antipsychotics and in general, they have fewer side effects. Atypical antipsychotics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the United States are:

  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Saphris (asenapine maleate)
  • Clozaril (clozapine)
  • Latuda (lurasidone)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Fanapt (iloperidone)
  • Invega (paliperidone)
  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Geodon (ziprasidone)

    Other Medications Used to Treat Bipolar Disorder

    If you have bipolar disorder, your doctor will likely prescribe you a combination of medications to help relieve your symptoms. Besides antipsychotics, your doctor may prescribe one or any combination of the following:

    • Mood stabilizers 

    These medications can help reduce your manic and/or hypomanic episodes. Common kinds are Tegretol (carbamazepine), Depakene (valproic acid), Lithobid (lithium) and Depakote (divalproex sodium).

    • Antidepressants 

    There are different classes of antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).

    Popular brands of antidepressants are Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Wellbutrin (bupropion), Remeron (mirtazapine) and Tofranil (imipramine). 

    • Antipsychotic-Antidepressant Combo

    Symbyax (fluoxetine/olanzapine) is an FDA-approved combination of Prozac and Zyprexa that works to both stabilize your mood and help your depressive symptoms.

    • Anti-Anxiety Medications

    These medications, called benzodiazepines, can help with sleep and anxiety, but are usually only prescribed for a short time. Typical benzodiazepines are Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), Ativan (lorazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam).


    "Mental Health Medications." National Institute of Mental Health (2016).

    "Atypical Psychotic Drugs Information." U.S. Food and Drug Administration (2015).

    "Bipolar disorder." Mayo Clinic (2015).

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