Common Side Effects of Psychiatric Medications

There are many common side effects of psychiatric medications, some of which are pretty similar across different classes of drugs. If you have any of the side effects below, please talk to your doctor the next time you see them. There may be things you and your doctor can do to minimize or reduce the side effects, such as changing the dosage or changing the time or how you take the medication. Please don’t make any medication changes, however, before talking to your doctor.

Many psychiatric medications have general side effects that span virtually all classes of drugs. Gabe Howard talks about these common side effects not commonly talked about: taste changes, memory issues, and frequent urination.

Different patients have different treatment responses and side effects to various psychiatric drugs — there is no single recipe or dosage that works for everyone. A patient may do better with one drug than another. Please keep this in mind as you take your psychiatric medication, and talk to your doctor if any concerns arise or you feel the drug isn’t working (or isn’t working as well as it used to).

Antipsychotics

Side effects of these drugs may include drowsiness, restlessness, muscle spasms, tremor, dry mouth, or blurring of vision. The long-term side effects include tardive dyskinesia (TD), a disorder characterized by involuntary movements most often affecting the mouth, lips and tongue, and sometimes the trunk or other parts of the body such as arms and legs. Taking these drugs over a long period of time — usually many years — increases the risk of long-term side effects.

Antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed for psychosis or schizophrenia. You can learn more about the side effects of antipsychotic medications here and a patient’s recommendations for dealing with the side effects of antipsychotic medications.

Atypical Antipsychotics

The most common side effects include dry mouth, blurred vision and constipation, dizziness or lightheadedness, and weight gain. Sometimes atypical antipsychotics can cause problems sleeping, extreme tiredness and weakness. For some atypical antipsychotics, long-term side effects include tardive dyskinesia (TD), a disorder characterized by involuntary movements most often affecting the mouth, lips and tongue, and sometimes the trunk or other parts of the body such as arms and legs. Taking these drugs over a long period of time — usually many years — increases the risk of long-term side effects.

Atypical antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed for psychosis or schizophrenia. You can learn more about the side effects of atypical antipsychotics here.

Benzodiazepines

Drowsiness, impaired coordination, memory impairment, dry mouth. Brand names include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium and Ativan. These medications are often prescribed for anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and phobias.

Buspirone

Dizziness, nausea, headache, nervousness, dysphoria. This medication is also known as BuSpar.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Nausea, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, insomnia, fatigue. Brand names include Celexa, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil and Zoloft. These are commonly prescribed for clinical depression. You can learn more about coping with antidepressant side effects here and how to better manage the painful side effects of antidepressants.

Stimulants

Common side effects of stimulants are loss of appetite, sleep problems, and mood swings. Stimulant drugs commonly include amphetamine and dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine); atomoxetine (Strattera); dexmethylphenidate (Focalin); lisdexamfetamine (Vyvanse); and methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin).

These medications are commonly prescribed for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). You can read more about side effects of ADHD medications here.

Tricyclic antidepressants

Drop in blood pressure when standing, sedation, dry mouth, constipation, urinary retention, blurred vision, dizziness, weight gain. Brand names include Anafranil, Pamelor, and Tofranil. These are older antidepressant medications.

Venlafaxine

Nausea, constipation, somnolence, dry mouth, dizziness, sweating, nervousness, fast heart rate, hypertension, and sexual dysfunction. This medication is also known by its common brand name, Effexor.