What is Olanzapine Used For (Zyprexa)?
Olanzapine (Zyprexa) is an antipsychotic medication used to treat psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia. The olanzapine drug class is atypical antipsychotics, and other drugs in the olanzapine drug class work by restoring the balance of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby decreasing hallucinations, agitation, disorganized thinking, and delusions.
As with most medicines, olanzapine side effects are possible and include weight gain, tremor, and sleepiness. Find out more about olanzapine below! Olanzapine (Zyprexa) is an antipsychotic medication used to treat psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, or manic depression, in adults and children ages 13 or older.
Generic Name and Brand Name
Zyprexa is the brand name of the antipsychotic drug called olanzapine. The olanzapine brand name oral tablet comes as a the brand name Zyprexa generic. Your doctor may prescribe regular tablets or disintegrating tablets, both of which are taken orally. Olanzapine is also available as an injectable solution administered by a healthcare professional.
Olanzapine belongs to a class of drugs called atypical antipsychotics. Atypical antipsychotics work by restoring the balance of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, improving a patient’s mood. This medication can decrease hallucinations, agitation, disorganized thinking, and delusions. Motivation and desire to be around other people may also improve.
How To Use Olanzapine
Olanzapine should always be taken as prescribed by your doctor. It is taken by mouth with or without food, usually once a day. The dosage depends on your medical condition and response to treatment. To reduce the risks of serious olanzapine side effects, your doctor may recommend starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it.
The medication is most effective when taken regularly, at the same hour each time. Do not stop taking the drug without consulting with your doctor first. Olanzapine is available as a tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet, and an oral solution. Avoid forcing the orally disintegrating tablet out of the foil. Take out the tablet by peeling back the foil packaging, and immediately place it in your mouth. Allow the tablet to dissolve without chewing. Swallow several times as the tablet dissolves.
Olanzapine Uses, Doses, and Withdrawal
What is Zyprexa Used For?
Olanzapine uses include treatment of schizophrenia in adults and children aged 13 or older. It is also used to treat mania, which is part of bipolar disorder. Olanzapine uses also include being combined with fluoxetine to treat depression as part of a bipolar disorder or depression in patients who did not respond well to other antidepressants and their olanzapine interactions.
Studies have found that olanzapine treatment has superior antipsychotic efficacy than haloperidol in the treatment of acute phase schizophrenia, as well as first-episode and treatment-resistant schizophrenia. Olanzapine treatment improves the quality of life in patients with schizophrenia and related psychoses to a greater extent than haloperidol and to broadly the same extent as risperidone.1
The oral dose of olanzapine for adults who have schizophrenia ranges from 5 mg to 20 mg per day. The dose is usually taken once per day, with or without food. The dose of the long-acting injection ranges from 150 mg to 405 mg, which is administered every 2 to 4 weeks.
For Bipolar Disorder
The oral dose of olanzapine for adults suffering from bipolar I disorder, with mixed or manic episodes, ranges from olanzapine 10 mg to 20 mg per day. If taken together with lithium or valproate, the typical starting dose is 10 mg by mouth once a day.
The typical dose for treating depression in adults is 5 mg per day, along with 20 mg of fluoxetine. The maximum dose is 18 mg of olanzapine, along with 75 mg of fluoxetine per day.
Olanzapine Withdrawal Symptoms
Abrupt discontinuation of olanzapine may lead to withdrawal symptoms. Do not stop using the medication without consulting with your doctor. The most common olanzapine withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Return of mental health issues
- Suicidal ideation
- Excessive sweating
- Loss of appetite
Olanzapine (Zyprexa) Side Effects
Mild Side EffectsOlanzapine may cause some mild side effects, including these:
- Dry mouth
- Infrequent stools
- Increased appetite
- Lack of energy
- Sleepiness or excessive sleeping
- Weight gain
Serious Side Effects
Some of the side effects of olanzapine may be serious. If you experience any of the following olanzapine side effects, call your doctor immediately.
- Slow heartbeat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Mental shifts or mood changes
- Tingling of arms and legs
- Yellowing of the eyes or the skin
- Severe stomach pain
- Trouble urinating
- Interrupted breathing during sleep
How Long Do Zyprexa Side Effects Last?
The Zyprexa side effects usually disappear once your body adjusts to the medicine. If you experience any side effects for a prolonged period, consult your healthcare professional.
Frequently Asked Questions About Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
What Happens If I Miss a Dose of Olanzapine?
If you miss taking a dose of olanzapine, take it soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip your missed dose altogether. Never take two doses at once. If you miss a dose of olanzapine long-lasting injection, consult with your health care professional and set a date to receive your dose as soon as possible.
What Should I Avoid While Taking Olanzapine?
Avoid consuming alcohol or any illegal drugs while taking olanzapine as these substances can decrease the positive effects of the medication and increase the adverse effects such as sedation. Avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of fluids, especially during exercise or hot weather.
What Happens If I Overdose With Olanzapine?
Some of the symptoms of overdose with olanzapine include drowsiness, slurred speech, agitation, fast heartbeat, and coma. If you think you or a loved one may have overdosed, call your doctor or the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222. If your loved one is not breathing, call 911 immediately.
Pros and Cons of Zyprexa
One of the top reasons why patients stop using Zyprexa is weight gain. According to a study of 80 women receiving olanzapine treatment for schizophrenia, 66.6 percent had a weight gain of 1 kg to 5 kg over four weeks.2 Moreover, Zyprexa can also increase blood sugar levels, which means the patient is at risk for developing diabetes. Zyprexa may also increase a patient’s cholesterol levels.
Despite the adverse side effects, olanzapine has been proven to be the most effective medication in first-episode schizophrenia, compared to other antipsychotics like haloperidol or their olanzapine interactions.
Patients who received olanzapine treatment were less likely to discontinue treatment compared with other antipsychotics. In the large-scale European First-Episode Schizophrenia Trial (EUFEST), olanzapine had the lowest discontinuation rate at 1 year, compared to haloperidol, quetiapine, ziprasidone, and amisulpride. Another trial has found that 23 percent of patients who continued olanzapine treatment were less likely to discontinue treatment compared to twelve percent of people who took haloperidol over the span of two years.3
Here are the percentages of each medication:
- Olanzapine: 33 percent
- Haloperidol: 72 percent
- Quetiapine: 53 percent
- Ziprasidone: 45 percent
- Amisulpride: 40 percent
With that said, the most appropriate antipsychotic medication for patients with psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder must be thoughtfully examined, considering both the benefits and risks associated with the use of this medication.