Stelazine (trifluoperazine) belongs to a class of drugs called conventional or typical antipsychotics. It is a prescription medication used primarily in the management of symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Stelazine may also be used as a short-term treatment for people who experience anxiety that have not responded to other medications. While this drug has proven to be effective in the management of certain symptoms, it will not cure schizophrenia or anxiety issues. Typically people experiencing those conditions seek additional treatment options such as psychotherapy in conjunction with taking medication.
Stelazine has been discontinued by its manufacturer and is no longer for sale in the United States as of 2004. It is available by its generic name only.
- What is the safest way to take this medication?
Stelazine is available as tablets, multi-dose vials, and liquid concentrate (for institutional use). When in tablet form, this drug is usually taken once or twice daily. For best results, try to take this medication at the same time each day. Do not take more or less of this medication, and do not take this medication for a longer or shorter period of time than is directed by your doctor.
- What should I do if I forget to take a dose?
Take the dose you forgot as soon as you remember it. However, if you are close to the time for your next scheduled dose, do not take the missed dose. You may put yourself at risk for an overdose if you take too much of this medication too quickly.
- How do I know if I have overdosed on this medication?
Check for common signs of overdose. These include drowsiness, erratic and uncontrollable body movements, fever, convulsions, agitation, constipation, changes in heart rate, restlessness, dry mouth, and coma.
- What should I do if I have overdosed on this medication?
Get urgent medical assistance or call a poison control center immediately. Do not attempt to throw up unless instructed to do so by poison control personnel.
- What can I do to get the most out of my treatment with this drug?
Pairing psychotropic drug treatment with a type of psychotherapy may help a person achieve better, longer-lasting mental health outcomes. While drugs help treat debilitating symptoms, they do not address behaviors, emotions, or teach healthy ways to cope when symptoms are triggered. Finding a qualified therapist or counselor can help you understand what you are experiencing in a safe environment, which can go a long way toward improving your quality of life. Additionally, many people report relief from associated symptoms such as depression or anxiety by engaging in meditation, yoga, or breathing exercises. These activities can be led by an instructor or self-guided and may help improve or remove some associated symptoms altogether.
- How can I safely store this medication?
Keep this drug tightly closed in its original packaging. Do not expose this medication to excessive amounts of heat or moisture. Avoid storing this medication in the bathroom or kitchen and keep it out of the reach of children.
Important Information to Consider Before Use
Older adults with signs of dementia should not take this drug. In a 10 week placebo-controlled trial, seniors experiencing dementia who were treated with antipsychotic medication had a death rate of 4.5%, compared to only 2.6% in the placebo-controlled group.
Prolonged use of this medication may lead to the development of a severe and potentially irreversible movement condition called tardive dyskinesia.
Tell your doctor if you have ever been diagnosed with blood or liver diseases, especially any conditions that may impact the production of blood cells by bone marrow. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking other prescription drugs or supplements—including vitamins, minerals, and herbal products—before taking this medication. Some drugs may interact with Stelazine, including anticoagulants, antidepressants, barbiturates, diuretics, and medications for Parkinson's disease and seizures. If you have kidney tumors, breast cancer, glaucoma, heart disease, or chest pain, you should tell your doctor about these conditions. Also, let your doctor know if you plan to work with organophosphorus insecticides during the course of your treatment.
Considerations During Use
If prescribed this drug, you should be aware of the following information during your treatment:
- If you plan to have a spinal x-ray examination (myelogram), tell your doctor that you are taking this drug.
- If taken during pregnancy, this drug may cause problems in newborns. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking this medication, you should talk to your doctor about alternative treatments for your condition.
- This medication may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight. Wear protective clothing and use sun block if you have to go outdoors. Avoid the use of tanning beds during the course of treatment.
- Your surgeon or anesthesiologist needs to know that you are taking this medication if you plan to have any type of surgery, including oral surgery.
- Avoid engaging in potentially hazardous activities such as driving, climbing, scuba diving, or operating heavy machinery while taking this drug. This medication may dull your alertness, reaction time, and thinking ability.
- Avoid drinking alcohol when you take Stelazine; alcoholic beverages may increase the drowsiness caused by this medication. Alcohol may also increase the intensity and frequency of this medication’s other side effects.
- This drug may cause your body to overheat easily and make it difficult to cool down after strenuous activity. Avoid becoming overheated and dehydrated, particularly on hot days.
Possible Side Effects
If you experience serious or severe side effects after taking this drug, you should call your doctor immediately. Serious side effects of this medication include:
- Irregular or fast heartbeat
- Tightness in throat or neck; difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Mouth or tongue problems, including uncontrollable movements of the mouth, face, or jaw; a tongue that protrudes from the mouth, or unusual tongue movement
- Vision problems, particularly in low or dim lighting
- Neck cramps
- Rash, hives, itching, or blisters
- Facial or body swelling
- Excessive sweating and muscle stiffness
- An erection which lasts for hours
- Flu-like symptoms including fever, chills, and general malaise
- Yellowed skin or eyes
Less serious side effects may include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, fatigue, or extreme tiredness
- Weight gain or appetite changes
- Dry mouth
- Restlessness or agitation
- Blank facial expression or shuffling walk; odd or unusual body movements
- Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
- Widening or narrowing of the pupils
- Breast enlargement, breast milk production, and missed menstrual periods
- Decreased sexual ability in men
- Difficulty urinating
How to Safely Withdraw from Stelazine
The best way to stop taking this medication is by slowing reducing your dosage over time. This will reduce the severity of any withdrawal symptoms you experience. Talk to your doctor before you alter or stop your dosing schedule. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Drugs.com. (2014). Stelazine. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/mtm/stelazine.html
- Medline Plus. (2011). Trifluoperazine. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a682121.html
- RxList. (2009). Stelazine. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/stelazine-drug.htm
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND.
Last Update: 03-25-2015