Antipsychotics: Overview

  • Oliver Freudenreich
Part of the Current Clinical Psychiatry book series (CCPSY)


Antipsychotics are effective for the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, both for acute psychosis and for the prevention of relapse. This chapter provides an overview of currently available first-, second-, and third-generation antipsychotics (partial agonists). Their shared mechanism of action (dopamine blockade) but also differences in their complex receptor profiles is used to explain clinical differences between individual antipsychotics, particularly with regard to side effects and optimal dosing. Understanding the historical ideas behind an antipsychotic’s “atypicality” (good efficacy without extrapyramidal side effect) is necessary to understand how newer antipsychotics compare to the older, first-generation antipsychotics. The chapter ends with a discussion of neurotoxicity from antipsychotics and the need for safer and more effective antipsychotics.


Antipsychotics Dopamine-2 receptor Mechanism of action First-generation antipsychotics Second-generation antipsychotics Third-generation antipsychotics Neurotoxicity Neuroprotection 


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Additional Resources


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Freudenreich
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryMassachusetts General HospitalBostonUSA

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