Risperdal (risperidone) is an atypical antipsychotic drug used by adults and teens to control the extreme emotions, thoughts, and behaviors sometimes associated with several mental health conditions. It is available only through prescription and is often prescribed to treat schizophrenia, but has several other clinical applications.
What Conditions Are Treated with Risperdal?
This medication may be used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, mania or mixed episodes in adults, teens, and children over the age of 10 years, and those who display bipolar symptoms. Risperdal may also be used to help control some of the behaviors associated with autism, such as limited speech activity, motivation, and social isolation, in children aged five to 16. While this medication will help to manage associated symptoms, it will not cure bipolar issues, mania, autism, or schizophrenia.
- What is the safest way to take Risperdal?
This medication is available as a tablet for oral administration, an oral solution, and as an orally disintegrating tablet. It is usually taken once or twice per day. Your doctor may start you on a low dosage and then slowly increase the amount of medication you take until your symptoms become more manageable. It may take several weeks to feel the full therapeutic effect of this drug, but it is important to continue taking the medication as advised by your doctor, even if you begin to feel well. You should not alter your dosing schedule without first consulting your doctor.
- I forgot to take my medication. What should I do?
As soon as possible, take the dose that you missed. However, if you are approaching the time for your next scheduled dose, then skip the missed dose completely. Taking too much of this medication too quickly may result in an overdose.
- How do I know if I have overdosed on this medication?
Check for symptoms usually associated with an overdose of Risperdal. These include sleepiness, upset stomach, convulsions, loss of consciousness, blurred vision, shakiness, and irregular, fast, or pounding heartbeat.
- What should I do if I have overdosed on this drug?
Call your doctor or call a poison help line as soon as possible. Do not try to throw up unless instructed to do so by a qualified medical professional.
- How can I get the most out of my Risperdal treatment?
When antipsychotic medications are prescribed to treat mental health conditions, it may be beneficial to consider pairing the drug treatment with a type of psychotherapy that also helps treat what you are experiencing. Finding a therapist or counselor you trust can help you understand the condition you are experiencing better, allow you to explore aspects of it in a safe and non-judgmental setting, and help you develop healthy strategies for when associated behaviors, emotions, or thoughts arise or become triggered. Many pieces of prominent, peer-reviewed research indicate that psychotropic drug treatment combined with therapy may produce better long-term results and a greater quality of life for those experiencing mental health conditions.
- What is the safest way to store this medication?
Store Risperdal in its original container and keep the container tightly closed when not in use. Do not keep this medication in locations that experience excess moisture or heat, such as in the bathroom or kitchen. Use orally disintegrating tablets as soon as you remove them from the original package. Keep this medication out of the reach of children.
Important Information to Consider Before Using Risperdal
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved this drug for use by older adults with dementia, as it may increase the risk of death.
If you have a history of irregular heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, heart attack, low white blood cell count, difficulty swallowing, low bone mineral density, chest pains, breast cancer, Parkinson's disease, stroke, seizures, heart disease, liver disease, or kidney disease, you should talk to your doctor before you take this drug. Let your doctor know if you have phenylketonuria, as the orally disintegrating Risperdal tablets contain phenylalanine.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had urinary issues or problems with your prostate. You should also mention any serious reactions you have had to similar medications. Risperdal may interact with other medications or supplements, including antidepressants, high blood pressure medications, sleeping pills, medication for seizures, herbal products, vitamins, and minerals. If you are taking other prescription drugs or supplements you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before you take this medication. If you have ever experienced addiction with street drugs or a prescription medication, let your doctor know before you begin taking this drug.
Long-term use of this drug may lead to the development of serious movement conditions such as neuroleptic malignant syndrome, tardive dyskinesia, and akathisia.
Important Information to Consider While Using Risperdal
Many antipsychotic drugs carry significant risks and hazards of which to be aware. If you are prescribed Risperdal, your doctor and/or pharmacist should inform you of the following:
- Talk to your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment. Risperdal may cause problems in newborns if taken during the last three months of pregnancy. This drug may pass into breast milk and harm nursing infants. Do not breastfeed until at least 12 weeks after treatment ends.
- This medication may cause drowsiness, reduce reaction time and decrease thinking ability. Be cautious when engaging in activities which require alertness such as driving, climbing or operating heavy machinery.
- Avoid drinking alcohol as it may worsen the side effects of this drug.
- If you plan to have any type of surgery, including oral surgery, your surgeon or anesthesiologist needs to know that you are taking this medication.
- This medication may make you very dizzy, especially when you first stand up from a seated position or after lying down. The medical term for this is orthostatic or postural hypotension and it is a common side effect with many antipsychotic drugs. Stand up slowly to avoid this effect.
- Tell your doctor right away if you begin to experience signs of increased blood sugar or diabetes. Treatment with this drug may cause a serious condition called ketoacidosis; if you develop signs of this condition, including loss of consciousness, extreme thirst, fruity-smelling breath, or nausea and vomiting, you should contact your doctor right away.
Possible Side Effects of Risperdal
If you experience serious or severe side effects after taking this drug, you should call your doctor immediately. Serious side effects may include:
- Symptoms of ketoacidosis
- Quick or abnormal heartbeat
- Flu-like symptoms including fever and excessive sweating
- Movements in the face or body that are difficult or impossible to control
- Itching, hives, or a rash
- Painful erection which lasts for hours
- Shuffling walk or slowed movements
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Less serious side effects may include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, or tiredness
- Restlessness, anxiety, or agitation
- Dry mouth
- Stomach issues, including nausea, pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
- Increased salivation
- Increased appetite or weight gain
- Vision problems
- Joint or muscle pain, particularly in arms or legs
- Discolored or dry skin
- Difficulty urinating
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Strange or unusual dreams
- Decreased sexual ability or interest
- Breast milk production
How to Safely Withdraw from Risperdal
Do not stop taking this drug abruptly as it may increase the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Consult with your doctor before reducing or stopping this medication. You may reduce withdrawal symptoms by slowly tapering off of this medication. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Drugs.com. (2014). Risperdal. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/risperdal.html
- Medline Plus. (2012). Risperidone. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a694015.html
- RxList. (2014). Risperdal. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/risperdal-drug.htm
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND
Last Update: 03-19-2015