Ziprasidone (Geodon)

Ziprasidone belongs in the category of atypical antipsychotics, which are sometimes referred to as the second generation neuroleptics. It is more typically known by its brand name, Geodon.®

What it’s used to treat

Ziprasidone is primarily used in the treatment of schizophrenia, as well as for acute manic and mixed episodes in children and adults who have bipolar disorder. It is not approved for use in children under the age of 10.

How it works

As with the other atypical antipsychotics, the way ziprasidone actually works in the brain is still a bit of a mystery. It helps bring certain neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, back into balance in the brain. It is believed that these two brain chemicals play a significant role in the symptoms of both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It does not work as a cure for either, but can help to minimize or alleviate the symptoms. It can also help prevent the symptoms from recurring.

How it’s administered

Ziprasidone can be taken orally as a capsule. It is also available as an injection.

Potential Side Effects

As with all antipsychotic medications, there are many potential side effects which may be caused by ziprasidone. Following is a list of some of the more common side effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Light-headedness
  • Constipation
  • Restlessness
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea
  • Weight gain
  • Diarrhea
  • Runny nose

Ziprasidone, like all antipsychotic drugs, may also cause tardive dyskinesia (TD) and neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS); although the risk is lower than with the older antipsychotic medications.

TD can become a permanent condition for some individuals. TD symptoms involve involuntary, random and uncontrollable movements, such as lip smacking, odd tongue or jaw movements, blinking, grimacing, and movements involving the limbs, fingers, toes, upper body or hips.

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is very serious because it can be fatal. Some of the symptoms include muscle stiffness, changes in one’s mental state, fluctuations in blood pressure or heartbeat, sudden renal failure, tremors, difficulty breathing, dehydration, rapid heartbeat, and extremely high temperature.

Precautions

Before taking ziprasidone, be sure to tell your doctor about any history of medical problems you have had. Also, be sure so disclose any drug allergies and any current medications. If you are pregnant, nursing, or considering pregnancy, let your doctor know. If you or a family member has a history of diabetes, heart problems or heart disease, long QT syndrome, seizures, liver or kidney disease, phenylketonuria, or problems swallowing. Ziprasidone can increase the risk of death in elderly individuals with dementia.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD

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