Risperidone

Sounds like 'ris-perry-done'

Risperidone is used to treat some types of mental illness such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Risperidone is also called Risperdal.

What is risperidone?

Risperidone is used to treat some types of mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is sometimes used in dementia, for agitation, restlessness, aggression and hallucinations. It has also been used to help with behaviour in autism. 

  • It doesn't cure these conditions but is used to help ease the symptoms and help you on your recovery path. 
  • It can help improve symptoms such as mania with bipolar disorder, the experience of hearing voices (hallucinations), ideas that distress you and don't seem to be based in reality (delusions), and difficulty in thinking clearly (thought disorder). 
  • Risperidone belongs to a group of medicines called antipsychotics. Read more about antipsychotic medicines and how they work.

Dose

In Aotearoa New Zealand risperidone is available as tablets, as a liquid solution or as an injection. The long-acting or depot injection is an option when your symptoms have settled after taking tablets or the liquid solution. Read more about depot antipsychotics.

  • The dose of risperidone will be different for different people. Your doctor will usually start you on a low dose and, if needed, will increase your dose slowly. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces side effects.
  • Always take your risperidone exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much risperidone to take, how often to take it and any special instructions.

For information on how to give risperidone to children, see risperidone information for parents and carers.

How to take risperidone

  • Take risperidone tablets with a glass of water.
  • Risperidone liquid should be measured carefully with the syringe provided. The liquid may be placed in a small cup and mixed with water, orange juice, or low-fat milk, but not tea. If you mix risperidone with another liquid, make sure all of the liquid is swallowed so that you get the full dose.
  • You can take risperidone with or without food, but if it makes you feel sick (nausea), try taking it with food.
  • If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Don't take double the amount.
  • Keep taking risperidone regularly. It usually takes a few weeks to start working and it can take several months before you feel the full benefits. Don't stop taking risperidone suddenly as your symptoms may return if stopped too early; talk to your healthcare provider before stopping.

Things to consider while taking risperidone

  • Avoid alcohol while you are taking risperidone, especially when you first start treatment. Alcohol can increase your risk of side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Risperidone can interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about all medicines you are taking including over the counter medicines, herbal and complementary medicines or recreational drugs.
  • Risperidone may cause changes in your blood glucose level, cholesterol level and heart function. Your doctor will check your physical health – you may need to have your weight and blood pressure (BP) measured regularly. You may also need blood tests to check your kidneys and liver, and cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Risperidone is best avoided for people with certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, depression and diabetes. Contact your doctor if you have or develop any of these conditions while taking it.
  • Contact your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding.
  • Make sure your drink plenty of water while taking risperidone, it is important to be well hydrated especially during strenuous exercise or exposure to extreme heat.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, risperidone can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling shaky, restless or unusual or uncontrollable movements 
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy or tired
  • Feeling dizzy
  • This is less common with risperidone.
  • Some people may feel more alert.
  • As a precaution, don't drive or use tools or machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol – it can make drowsiness worse.
  • Tell your doctor if these effects bother you.
  • Weight gain
  • Increased appetite 
  • Constipation
  • This is common when taking risperidone.
  • Eat a diet full of vegetables and fibre, drink plenty of water and limit sugary or fatty foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Speak with your doctor if you are concerned.
  • Read more about medicines and weight gain.
  • Headache
  • Try paracetamol.  Check that this can be taken with any other medicines you may take
  • Anxiety or problems sleeping
  • Tell your doctor.
 
  • Signs of changes in hormones such as changes to periods in women and breast changes in both men and women. 
 
  • These changes are due to raised levels of a hormone called prolactin, and it can be very distressing for some people.
  • Discuss with your doctor.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.

Learn more

The following links have more information on risperidone.

Med-ucation medication benefits & side effects Talking Minds, NZ 
Risperon, Risperdal Consta Medsafe Consumer Information Sheets

References

  1. Risperidone New Zealand Formulary
  2. Antipsychotic drugs New Zealand Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 08 Nov 2022