Geodon (ziprasidone), an atypical antipsychotic medication, works by blocking receptors of certain neurotransmitters—primarily dopamine and serotonin—in the brain. It is available by prescription only. Adults and children who are at least 10 years of age may benefit from taking this drug. Unlike many other antipsychotic drugs, Geodon is known to produce little or no weight gain as a side effect.
What Mental Health Conditions Is Geodon Used to Treat?
This drug used to control intense thoughts, emotions, and behaviors which may accompany schizophrenia. It may also be used to treat individuals experiencing bipolar with symptoms of mania or mixed episodes (symptoms of mania and depression that occur simultaneously or in rapid sequence). While this medication may help to control the behavior that accompanies schizophrenia or bipolar issues, it will not cure any these mental health conditions.
For most mental health treatments that require psychotropic medication, GoodTherapy.org recommends pairing the drug treatment with a type of psychotherapy. Many published studies indicate that treatment with drugs alone does not enhance a person’s quality of life to the same degree as it might when paired with psychotherapy. If you are prescribed an antipsychotic medication, please consider finding a qualified therapist or counselor to learn more about your condition and develop healthy ways to cope with underlying emotions, behaviors, and intrusive thoughts.
- How can I take Geodon safely?
Geodon may come in capsule form (ziprasidone hydrochloride) for oral administration, or as an injection (ziprasidone mesylate) for intramuscular application only. This drug is usually taken twice per day with food. It is important to continue taking the medication as prescribed. Do not increase or decrease the amount of medication taken without first speaking to your doctor.
- What should I do if I miss a dose?
Take the dose you missed as soon as you can. If the time for the next scheduled dose is close, then do not take the missed dose. Do not take two doses at once in an attempt to make up for a missed dose. Taking too much of this medication over a short period of time may lead to an overdose.
- What should I do if I overdose?
Contact emergency medical services or a poison control center immediately. Symptoms of overdose include anxiety, slurred speech, sleepiness, and sudden, uncontrollable movements of the body.
Important Information to Consider Before Using Geodon
Geodon is not approved for use by elderly people with dementia, as it may increase the risk of death during treatment. Talk to your doctor if you have a history of cardiovascular issues such as heart attack, untreated heart failure, stroke, or irregular heart rhythms. Your doctor should also be informed of other health conditions such as diabetes, bone marrow issues, breast cancer, kidney disease, liver disease, seizures, high cholesterol, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, suicidal ideation, difficulty swallowing, or low levels of magnesium or potassium.
If you have ever been addicted to street drugs or prescription medications, let your doctor know before you begin taking Geodon. This medication may interact with many other common medications or supplements, including antidepressants, herbal products, antifungal drugs, vitamins, minerals, sleeping pills, antibiotics, HIV medications, antihistamines, high blood pressure medications, and more. If you are taking other prescription drugs or supplements, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking this drug.
Important Information to Consider While Using Geodon
This drug carries with it several significant risks and hazards to be aware of. Before prescribing this medication or filling a prescription, your doctor and/or pharmacist should inform you of the following:
- Speak with your doctor if you become pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. Do not stop taking this medication—even during pregnancy—unless advised to do so by your doctor. You should not breast-feed while taking this drug, as it is unknown whether ziprasidone is able to pass into breast milk. While there is limited data on human pregnancy, animal studies show a greater incidence of fetal structural abnormalities, an increase in the amount of progeny born dead, and lower postnatal survival rates.
- People in treatment will need to take regular blood tests. Liver and kidneys will also need to be checked regularly to ensure proper functioning.
- This drug may make you extremely drowsy. Be very cautious if you are driving, operating heavy machinery, or participating in activities which require alertness and/or fast reactions.
- Dress appropriately to avoid becoming too cold or too hot. Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration or overheating, especially during hot weather or when exercising.
- Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice as these may reduce the effectiveness of the medication.
- This drug may make you very dizzy, especially when you first stand up from a seated position or after lying down. Stand up slowly to avoid this effect.
- Tell your doctor right away if you begin to experience signs of increased blood sugar or diabetes. This medication may cause a serious condition called ketoacidosis. Symptoms of this condition include loss of consciousness, extreme thirst, fruity-smelling breath, nausea, or vomiting. If you experience these effects, consult your doctor right away.
- Geodon has been associated with a rare but serious skin condition called drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms (DRESS). DRESS may start as a rash and spread to all parts of the body, including organs such as lungs, kidney, pancreas, liver, and heart. This condition may lead to death. Doctors are recommended to stop treatment with ziprasidone if symptoms of DRESS appear.
- Avoid using alcohol during treatment as it may increase some of the drug’s side effects
Possible Side Effects of Geodon
If you experience serious or severe side effects after taking Geodon, you should call your doctor immediately. Serious side effects of this drug may include:
- Signs of ketoacidosis, including loss of consciousness, extreme thirst, fruity-smelling breath, nausea, and vomiting
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Fever or sweating
- Facial or body movements that cannot be controlled
- Hives or a rash
- Painful erection lasting for hours
Less serious side effects may include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, or tiredness
- Restlessness or anxiety
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Sneezing or runny nose
- Loss of appetite
- Muscle aches or pains
How to Safely Withdraw from Geodon
Talk to your doctor before you reduce or stop taking Geodon. Although not classified as addictive, it is important that you do not stop taking this medication abruptly, as your body may have become accustomed to the drug during treatment. To reduce withdrawal symptoms, it is recommended that you slowly taper off of this medication. Possible symptoms of withdrawal may include insomnia, the return of psychotic symptoms, or the return of bipolar symptoms.
- Citizens Commission on Human Rights International. (2012). The side effects of common psychiatric drugs. Retrieved from http://www.cchrint.org/pdfs/The_Side_Effects_of_Common_Psychiatric_Drugs.pdf
- Drugs.com. (2014). Geodon. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/geodon.html
- Medline Plus. (2014). Ziprasidone. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a699062.html
- RxList. (2014). Geodon. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/geodon-drug.htm
- United States Food and Drug Administration. (2014). FDA drug safety communication: FDA reporting mental health drug ziprasidone (Geodon) associated with rare but potentially fatal skin reactions. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm426391.htm
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND
Last Update: 03-12-2015