Frequently Asked Questions: Risperdal

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If you would like to learn more or have questions about this drug, please read below where we've compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

What Is Risperdal Used For?

Risperdal is used to lessen the symptoms associated with schizophrenia, as well as acute mania and mixed episodes associated with Bipolar I Disorder; it has been cleared for use in adults and teenagers older than 13. It has also been prescribed to children aged between 5 and 16 who are dealing with irritability associated with an autistic disorder.

Is Risperdal a Dangerous Drug to Take?

Currently, there is a lot of debate about the safety of the drug Risperdal. In 2000, a study was published titled "Galactorrhea and gynecomastia in a hypothyroid male being treated with risperidone" that looked into a possible link between males taking risperidone and gynecomastia, which is the enlargement of male breast tissue. In the study, a 38-year-old man diagnosed with a bipolar mood disorder was prescribed 2.5 mg of risperidone to take twice per day. After 12 days, he was suffering from enlarged breasts as well as galactorrhea, which is the discharge of milk from the breast. This has led to numerous lawsuits being filed; for example, J&J confidentially settled six lawsuits in 2012. In one of these, the plaintiff's attorney stated the drug caused his client to grow "D" cup breasts.

What Are the Side Effects of Risperdal?

Several side effects have been noted with the taking of Risperdal. For example, it can cause:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Dry Mouth
  • Increased Saliva
  • Increased Appetite & Weight Gain
  • Stomach Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Increased Dreaming
  • Difficulty with Sleep
  • Decreased Libido
  • Sexual Problems
  • Problems with Vision
  • Pain in Muscles & Joints

There are also some other side effects that can be extremely serious. For example:

  • Fever
  • Stiff Muscles
  • Confusion
  • Fast, Irregular Pulse
  • Uncontrollable Movements
  • Seizures
  • Rash / Hives
  • Problems Breathing & Swallowing

As stated above, there is also the risk of gynecomastia (benign male breast tissue growth) and galactorrhea (spontaneous discharge of milk-like substance from the breasts).

Janssen warns those taking Risperdal® Consta® (risperidone injection) that the following may occur:

  • Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)
  • Tardive Dyskinesia (TD)
  • Extrapyramidal Symptoms (EPS)
  • High Blood Sugar & Diabetes
  • Changes in Cholesterol & Triglycerides
  • Painful, Long-Lasting Erections

Can Risperidone Cause Lactating?

One of the most dangerous side effects of risperidone is galactorrhea, which is the spontaneous flow of milk from the breasts that is not associated with pregnancy. Studies have shown that the taking of risperidone can lead to elevated levels of prolactin in the blood (hyperprolactinemia), which can lead to galactorrhea. This has been found in both women and men taking risperidone.

Can Risperdal Have Side Effects Like Parkinson's Disease?

Parkinson's disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder that attacks the central nervous system; this leads to initial symptoms related to movement: shaking and tremors, rigid muscles, impaired balance, and slowness of movement. As the disease progresses, it can lead to neuropsychiatric disturbances, such as dementia, depression, apathy, quiet speech, difficulty controlling impulses and slowed cognitive speed. In some cases, the taking of Risperdal may cause Parkinsonian-like side effects, such as shaking muscles, hypertension, anxiety, difficulty moving, and muscle stiffness. It, however, is much less likely than with older antipsychotic drugs and is usually reversible. While there is some overlap with the symptoms, there is currently no scientific evidence to show Risperdal could lead to Parkinson's disease.

Does Risperidone Have a Side Effect of Impotence?

In 2009, a study was published titled "A comparative study of sexual dysfunction involving risperidone, quetiapine, and olanzapine." In that study, the authors looked into the possibility of some of the antipsychotic drugs—such as risperidone—causing sexual dysfunction. The results, while inconclusive, showed that those who were taking risperidone had the highest level of overall sexual impairment when compared to the other drugs, with 96% of participants suffering. 80% of people taking risperidone had impaired desire, and 40% were suffering from erectile dysfunction. Other studies have confirmed risperidone can result in erectile dysfunction, ejaculation failure, and other forms of sexual dysfunction. All of these sexual problems are commonly listed as potential side effects.

Can Risperidone Cause Weight Gain?

One of the most frustrating and frequently complained about symptoms of risperidone is the weight gain that often comes with it. In 2010, CNN reported this symptom in an article titled " Healthy weight or healthy mind? Psych drugs can pile on pounds," where they followed a 5-year-old girl who was taking an antipsychotic drug for irritability associated with autistic disorders. Within a month, the previously 40-pound child had gained 5.5 pounds (14% of her body weight), and within a year she had gained 20. She, however, is not an isolated case. All too often, patients who are seeking out the help of these drugs have suffered clinically significant weight gain as a result, which is defined as gaining more than 7% of your body weight. In 2002, a study was published titled "Weight gain associated with olanzapine and risperidone in adolescent patients." In this study, it was found that adolescents taking risperidone have a high risk of extreme weight gain.

Do You Lose Weight After You Stop Taking Risperdal?

In 2007, the British Pharmacological Society posted a study that looked into reversing the weight gain and metabolic changes associated with the taking of risperidone. In the study, they followed a 32-year-old woman taking risperidone who gained 17 pounds over six weeks, adding 6 inches to her waist. It was noted in the study that even though she attempted to exercise and restrict her diet, all attempts failed. She also experienced elevated cholesterol, triglyceride levels, and other metabolic changes. She quit taking the drug, and after a month, her weight and waist circumference had reduced almost all of the way to where she was before taking the drug with metabolic parameters stabilizing once more. Other stories corroborate these findings—showing that you could potentially lose weight gained while taking Risperdal once you stop taking the drug. These, however, are still inconclusive; it is best to discuss with your doctor.

Can Risperdal Affect the Liver?

Per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, there have been possible links between the taking of risperidone and acute liver injury, as well as serum aminotransferase elevations. According to LiverTox, up to 30% of patients who are on long-term risperidone therapy report liver test abnormalities within the first eight weeks. In some cases, these are mild and may even go away with the continued taking of the medication. In other cases, it has been reported to result in marked elevations of ALT and alkaline phosphatase elevations. In some cases, months or even years after a patient started taking the drug, they may report acute liver injury with jaundice. There is speculation that some of the liver injuries may be attributed to weight gain.

Is Risperdal Addictive?

Although Risperdal is not addictive, it does not mean that it is an easy drug to stop taking. Many people have reported suffering from withdrawal symptoms while taking the medication; it is not recommended that you stop taking the drug "cold turkey" without medical supervision. Some symptoms of Risperdal withdrawal can include agitation, anxiety, dizziness, insomnia, itching, nausea, and more.

Is Risperdal a Psychotropic Medication?

Psychotropic drugs are those that affect a person's mental state. Antipsychotics, which are used to manage psychosis, fall under this category. Since Risperdal is an antipsychotic, it's also considered to be a psychotropic drug. It's one of the most commonly prescribed psychotropic drugs on the market.

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