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Zyprexa (Olanzapine)

Zyprexa, also called olanzapine, is one of a group of medications called atypical antipsychotics. Zyprexa is used to control the symptoms of schizophrenia in adults and teens over the age of thirteen. This medication helps control the delusional thinking, apathy, and strong or inappropriate emotions that can accompany schizophrenia. This drug is also used to treat bipolar adults and teens over thirteen; this medication can help control both the mania and depression experienced by people with bipolar. This medication will help control the behavior that accompanies schizophrenia or bipolar, but it will not cure these conditions.


Zyprexa is usually taken once per day and comes in a tablet or a quick-dissolve tab. Take this prescription only as directed. You may begin taking one dose, and your doctor may increase your dosage to find the correct amount for you. You may need to take this medication for a few weeks before you feel the full benefits of this medication.

Important Information Before Use

Zyprexa is not recommended for use by older adults with dementia. For best results, teens taking Zyprexa should use this medication as part of an overall treatment plan that includes therapy. Teens are more likely to experience side effects from this medication than adults. If you have or have ever had heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, stroke, or seizures you should talk to your doctor before you take Zyprexa. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family currently has or has ever had diabetes.


If you have or have had any problems with addictive drugs, including street drugs and medication, you should talk with your doctor before you take Zyprexa. You should also mention any serious reactions you have had to other similar medications. If you are taking other prescription drugs or supplements, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking Zyprexa. Zyprexa may interact with other medications or supplements, including antihistamines, antidepressants, antacids, antifungals, sleeping pills, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, and more.

Important Information During Use

  • Zyprexa can cause problems in newborns if it was taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. If you are pregnant or become pregnant while taking Zyprexa, you should talk to your doctor about alternative treatments for your condition.
  • Zyprexa can make you extremely drowsy; using alcohol with Zyprexa can worsen this side effect.
  • Your surgeon or anesthesiologist needs to know that you are taking Zyprexa if you are having any type of surgery, including oral or dental surgery.
  • Avoid cigarettes and tobacco products when taking Zyprexa; these items can interfere with the medication.
  • Grapefruit juice or grapefruit products may interact with Zyprexa; talk to your doctor about this possibility if you consume a lot of grapefruit.
  • Zyprexa may cause an increase in blood sugar, particularly when you first start taking this medication. If you begin showing signs of ketoacidosis, you should call your doctor right away. Ketoacidosis is a serious condition related to your blood sugar levels, and symptoms include increased thirst or hunger, blurred vision, sweet or fruity smelling breath, weakness, and increased urination.
  • People taking Zyprexa may overheat more easily and have trouble cooling down after activity.
  • It is important to take the correct amount of this medication each day. Signs of Zyprexa overdose include drowsiness, slurred or slow speech, and seizures.

Side Effects

If you experience serious or severe side effects from Zyprexa, you should call your doctor immediately. Serious side effects may include:

  • Irregular or fast heartbeat
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Hives or rash
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of face, eyes, or extremities
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Fever or sweating
  • Unusual, uncontrollable facial or body movements
  • Vision changes

Less serious side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness, dizziness, or weakness
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep
  • Depression
  • Dry mouth
  • Weight gain
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty moving around or walking
  • Pain in the joints, arms, or legs
  • Breast discharge or enlargement
  • Missed or late menstrual periods
  • Decreased sexual ability


  1. Highlights of prescribing information. (2013, July 26). Retrieved from http://pi.lilly.com/us/zyprexa-pi.pdf
  2. Zyprexa (olanzapine). (2013, January). Retrieved from http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=About_Medications&template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=12517

Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND


Last Update: 12-22-2014


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