Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Anti-psychotic Drugs Definition:

Tranquilizing pharmaceutical products used to minimize or control psychotic episodes or the symptoms associated with schizophrenia.

Related Terms: Schizophrenia, Neuroleptic

Also referred to as neuroleptics, psychotropic drugs or major tranquillizers.

In Fleming v Reid, Justice Robins of the Ontario Court of Appeal wrote this on the subject of anti-psychotic drugs, in the context of an involuntary apprehension case:

"[A]ntipsychotic drugs ... are the most common form of treatment for schizophrenia and related mental illnesses. Their medical efficacy stems from their ability to minimize or control psychotic episodes or the symptoms associated with schizophrenia. Not all patients are responsive to the drugs and some improve without them. However, there is no way to predict a patient's reaction to any particular medication within this class of drugs.

"In general, anti-psychotic drugs influence chemical transmissions to the brain, affecting both activatory and inhibitory functions. Because the therapeutic effect of the drugs is to reduce the level of psychotic thinking, it is virtually undisputed that they are mind-altering. Although neuroleptics are the drug of choice for treatment of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic, they are not a cure for the disorder but are said to work so as to have a beneficial effect on thought processes and the brain's ability to sort out and integrate perceptions and memory....

"The use of neuroleptics in the treatment of various psychoses is generally effective in improving the mental condition of the patient by alleviating the symptoms of mental disorder. It is clear, however, that they may not be helpful in every case. Moreover, the efficacy of the drugs is complicated by a number of serious side effects which are associated with their use. These include a number of muscular side effects known as extra-pyramidal reactions: dystonia (muscle spasms, particularly in the face and arms, irregular flexing, writhing or grimacing and protrusion of the tongue); akathesia (internal restlessness or agitation, an inability to sit still); akinesia (physical immobility and lack of spontaneity); and Parkinsonisms (mask-like facial expression, drooling, muscle stiffness, tremors, shuffling gait)....

"[I]t appears that although these drugs apparently operate so as to benefit many patients by alleviating their psychotic symptoms, they also carry with them significant, and often unpredictable, short term and long term risks of harmful side effects."

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