Antipsychotic Drugs: How they Work and why they don’t Work


“The precise mechanism by which the medicine works is unknown.” This is what is written in the drug information for Seroquel, the second antipsychotic my son was put on. They say, “This is a major area of research. One belief is that psychotic symptoms are related to over activity in the brain of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It is thought that antipsychotic medications reduce the activity of dopamine in the synaptic cleft. They do this by blocking the dopamine receptors—that is, preventing dopamine from attaching to the receptors. These medicines may also affect several other neurotransmitters in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and glutamate. The overall purpose of anti-psychotic treatment is to restore the disturbed chemical balance of the brain.”

In fact, the atypical antipsychotics block several other neurotransmitters, blocking transmission of neurons from other governing centers in the brain, such as from the limbic region, which provides the emotional color in life; the movement center of the brain, which governs movement; and the cerebellum, the cognitive center of the brain, which governs thinking.

These adverse effects result from antipsychotics: flattened or dead emotions, movement disorders such as akinesia or movement indifference, akathisia or inner restlessness, and tachycardia or Parkinson’s-like tremors. This is why the side effect medicine benztropine is prescribed with risperidone to take when tachycardia side effects occur. Cognitive disorders result in disconnected thoughts and slow thinking.

The hypothalamus-pituitary-thyroid axis is affected, and blocks the release of vital hormones, causing adverse effects such as amenorrhea, the stopping of menstrual cycles in young women and sexual impotence in men (Mackliff, 2012).

The hypothesis about the schizophrenic brain containing an excessive number of dopaminergics receptors explains some of the effects of the antipsychotics. It explains that when the dopaminergics receptors get blocked, the symptoms improve. It also explains how the antipsychotic drugs control behaviors but don’t cure schizophrenia. As soon as they are eliminated from the body, the receptors become free, and an excessive number of them start producing the schizophrenic pathology again (Mackliff, 2012).

Since 75 percent of young people diagnosed with schizophrenia stop taking the medicine during the first year and half of treatment because the side effects are so intolerable, the schizophrenic pathology begins again and again (New York State Mental Health, 2015).

The antipsychotic effect on schizophrenic patients hospitalized for a long time implies a permanent action on the cerebral synapses. The antipsychotic drug alters the capacity of the cell to respond to the synaptic impulse and furthermore alters its capacity to transmit information to other nervous cells (Mackliff, Schizophrenia and Parkinson: A New and Efficient Regulation of Dopaminergic Synapses after BEAM (Bilateral Electro-Coagulation of Adrenal Medulla), 2016).

Antipsychotics do not eradicate symptoms but create a state of detachment from them. And the actions of antipsychotics in the conditioned-avoidance-response model, one of the best-established animal models for identifying antipsychotic action, are consistent with the idea that they dampen aberrant as well as normal motivational behavior.

My son was a highly motivated, intelligent, and sexual young man. The antipsychotic drug treatment made him feel completely unmotivated, incapacitated, and dead. My son chose suicide (an adverse effect called the final episode) rather than to live a life not worth living.

Antipsychotics and BEAM

It is very important that the schizophrenic patient, after the BEAM operation, should take antipsychotic medication for a year and a half, gradually decreasing the dosage.

The benefits of BEAM in Parkinson’s patients are immediate in schizophrenic patients after two to three days. In both cases, the role of the family is very important. It is also important to understand that BEAM is a surgery that produces synaptic changes, signal transmission rate change, and genetic change, and so it should help to avoid antipsychotic increases in dopamine receptors in the limbic area because, after the operation, biochemical changes in the brains of schizophrenics occur immediately. The patient and his or her family need to work with the psychological effects of the patient’s recovery, and this takes time for their adaptability.

BEAM produces a change that antipsychotic drugs cannot perform, but antipsychotics in the indicated doses work perfectly on a schizophrenic patient who maintains a different synaptic plasticity, which he or she did not have before the BEAM operation.

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