Mental health conditions result in depressive episodes, mood disorders and bouts of mania. Conditions such as schizophrenia and depressive episodes as a result of bipolar disorder, are managed with antipsychotic drugs. Latuda, brand name of Lurasidone is one among the many antipsychotic drugs that are used in the treatment of the conditions. By virtue of its mechanism of action involving the antagonism of serotonin receptors, the medication comes with lesser side effects typically associated with antipsychotic medication. However, this does not free the drug from all undesirable effects; here is an in-depth look at side effects of Latuda with information on mitigating and preventing adverse effects.

Overview of Latuda

As mentioned above, the medication belongs to the category of atypical antipsychotic drugs prescribed for treating depressive episodes associated with bipolar I disorder and schizophrenia. In use since approval in the year 2010, the medication presents relatively lesser side effects as a result of atypical antipsychotic mechanism of action. The mixed serotonin and dopamine activity helps in bringing about improvement in cognition in the patient. Extrapyramidal undesirable effects that are typically associated with antipsychotics are not witnessed in Latuda, making it a better choice in managing conditions without side effects.

Uses of Latuda in managing various mental health conditions 

Before we look at the undesirable effects of Latuda, it is necessary to learn all about its uses, which will help in identifying specific conditions and individuals who may be exposed to possible undesirable effects. The medication is used for managing depressive episodes linked to bipolar I disorder. This condition refers to a mood disorder among patients, and manifests through episodes of mania and bouts of depression. Patients are sometimes known to experience loneliness, or feel sad for a fortnight, which gives the condition its name “bipolar”. The patient is likely to exhibit two phases of mood and energy and this is typically managed with antipsychotic drugs.

Latuda is prescribed for adults and children above the age of ten, and the medication is also used adjunctively with other drugs such as lithium or valproate. The medication is also used to treat adults and children above the age of thirteen with schizophrenia. The medication is used as a mood stabilizer for patients with mental health conditions, and is often combined with SSRI antidepressants to treat the conditions.

Commonly reported outcomes of the medication

Available in tablet form in strengths of 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg and 120 mg, the medication is typically taken once every day. The actual strength may depend on the condition and various other factors. Commonly reported outcomes of the medication may differ, depending on the actual condition being treated with the medication. For instance, individuals on the drug for bipolar I disorder related depressive episodes may experience a set of undesirable effects, while patients taking the medication for schizophrenia may experience another set of undesirable effects. Most of the commonly reported side effects are known to resolve naturally without the need for medical intervention. However, undesirable effects that either persist or are intense in nature may require attention in a healthcare facility.

Some of the commonly reported effects include a restless feeling, including the desire to move around without any specific reason. Patients may also experience abnormal stiffness in the muscles or tremors that is not attributed to any other condition. Additionally, there may be difficulty experienced by the patients in moving around, or the pace of moving may be reduced. Other effects observed in patients include the possibility of insomnia. Reports of patients experiencing vomiting sensations or nausea during the initial stages of the taking the medication are also relatively common. Similarly, the individual is also likely to end up gaining weight, despite the absence of any changes in dietary intake or lifestyle. The patient’s ability in decision making, or clarity of thoughts may also be affected as a result of the medication. Muscle coordination may also be impacted in a section of users, that may make routine actions and reactions challenging.

Undesirable effects that are regarded as serious

As mentioned earlier, the medication presents relatively lesser side effects, that are mainly restricted to common undesirable effects. Serious side effects of the medication are relatively rare in occurrence, and may sometimes require medical intervention, depending on the condition. For instance, patients may experience change in metabolism,  and the consequences of this may result in an increase in blood sugar levels. Similarly, changes in metabolism are known to have an impact on cholesterol levels. Patients may experience weight gain as a result of this change in metabolism, despite an unchanged diet or routine.

Other serious effects include an increase in the levels of the prolactin hormone. Symptoms commonly associated with the increase include a lack of menstruation in women. Additionally, women who are not breast feeding may suddenly experience production of breast milk.  Symptoms linked to the increase of the hormone in men include development of breasts in a condition known as gynecomastia. Additionally, men may also end up with erectile dysfunction, finding it difficult to either achieve or sustain an erection.

Apart from the above serious undesirable effects there is also the possibility of patients experiencing neuroleptic malignant syndrome. This refers to the condition wherein patients experience reactions to specific medications, with the reactions being classified as severe in nature. For instance, patients may experience changes in blood pressure levels, apart from a change in heart beat rate and breathing rate. Patients may sweat profusely for no explained reason, while some are known to end up with a fever. Other symptoms include stiffness in the muscles that is not linked to any other condition. Finally, the patient may also end up confused and unable to make coherent or clear decisions.

Adverse reactions of the medication include a reduction in white blood cells. Commonly associated symptoms of reduced white blood cells include fever, outbreak of sores on the insides of the mouth and possible exposure to infections. Individuals may be prone to contract infections when the white blood cells count reduces, affecting the body’s ability to ward off infections. Other undesirable adverse effects include the risk of stroke in elderly adults diagnosed with psychosis. This is typically in cases that are linked to dementia, with discernible symptoms including confusion that may or may not be accompanied by headache. Patients with this condition may experience difficulty in vision, or routine actions including walking and talking. Another symptom that is indicative of this condition is a general weakness on one side of the body – on the face, the arm or the leg.

There is also the risk of seizures among patients on the medication. Symptoms that are indicative of the onset of seizures include confused behavior for no apparent reason. The individual is likely to fall frequently, and have little control over the movements of muscles. The inability to effectively control muscles can impact mobility or routine actions. Loss of consciousness is another symptom that is indicative of this condition. Individuals may also exhibit unusual behavior of staring for no particular reason.  Patients may also experience a rapid decrease in blood pressure levels when in a standing position. Known medically as orthostatic hypotension, this condition manifests with tell-tale symptoms. For instance, the individual may experience blurred vision, without any other attributable condition. There is the possibility of the individual feeling dizzy, or fainting easily. The later condition is known medically as syncope and the patient may fall frequently. A sudden decrease in energy levels, and feelings of nausea are also other indicative symptoms.

In addition to the above, the patient may also experience other manifestations that can be considered as serious, meriting medical intervention. The patient may find it difficult to keep temperature under control, and this could manifest in symptoms such as feelings of confusion. The individual may end up dehydrated, as a result of low levels of body fluids, apart from a dizzy or light headed feeling. Profuse sweating, and bouts of nausea are also possible indicators if these adverse effects. Patients may find it challenging to swallow food or liquid easily, indicating adverse effects of the medication.

Other general effects linked to the medication include the possibilities of allergies when on the medication. The manifestation of allergies includes outbreak of rashes on the skin, and itching sensation. There is also the possibility of the skin flushing and appearing reddish. Allergies can also be rare and serious, such as swelling beneath the skin, especially on the limb extremities, or the lips and eyelids. Swelling could also be witnessed in the throat, the mouth or the tongue of the patient experiencing allergic reactions to the medication. More severe reactions include difficulty in breathing, and this requires urgent medical attention. The patient may exhibit suicidal tendencies, and erratic behaviour when on the medication, in rare instances. Elderly patients diagnosed with dementia related psychosis are exposed to the risk of fatal effects. Finally, individuals are also at risk of ending up with tardive dyskinesia, a condition wherein the patient has uncontrolled muscle movements.

General precautions and safe practices

To avoid undesirable outcomes, it is important to follow safe practices, and general precautions. For instance, while the actual dosage of the medication may differ, depending on the condition, the maximum dosage generally does not exceed 120 mg or 160 mg per day. The tablet is to be taken with food, and patients need to ensure that the dietary intake along with food delivers a minimum of 350 calories of energy to the body. Patients with certain pre-existing health conditions, such as kidney ailments or liver disease may be prescribed lower dosages to prevent possible adverse effects.

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