Olanzapine is an antipsychotic medication used to treat psychotic conditions, including schizophrenia and the manic and depressive states of bipolar disorder. Although the medication is effective, people interested in taking this medication should learn of serious risks that may occur. Thoroughly discuss all side effects and risks with a doctor or mental health professional before taking this medication.
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Although many people can benefit from olanzapine, this medication is not right for everyone. Those suffering from depression or anxiety related to dementia should not take this medication, as it may cause pneumonia, heart failure or even death. People with liver disease, high cholesterol or triglycerides, seizures or epilepsy, diabetes, bowel problems, an enlarged prostate, heart disease, or narrow-angle glaucoma may need special tests or a dose adjustment before they are able to take the medication safely. Those with a history of breast cancer, heart failure, heart attack, stroke or low white blood cell counts should also talk to a doctor before using this medication.
People usually take olanzapine once a day, with or without food, at approximately the same time each day. It comes in a regular tablet or an orally disintegrating tablet form. This medication is usually part of a larger treatment program that includes counseling or other psychological support programs, according to Drugs.com. The recommended dosage of olanzapine varies depending upon the specific circumstances. Individuals should always follow their doctor’s instructions and the information on the prescription label.
Common side effects of olanzapine include headaches; drowsiness; tiredness; dizziness; restlessness; increased appetite; weight gain; loss of bladder control; constipation; missed menstrual periods; numbness or tingly feeling; memory problems; or pain in the back, arms, legs or stomach. These side effects may lessen as the body gets used to the medication. Some side effects may indicate serious medical complications. These serious side effects include swelling, dry mouth, thirst, urinating less than usual, difficulty speaking or swallowing, twitching, rigid muscles, high fever, confusion, changes in heart rate, feeling faint, flu symptoms, upper stomach pain, dark urine, jaundice or clay-colored stools. Personality changes, hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior, or thoughts of self-harm or harming others may also occur. Those experiencing any of these serious side effects should contact a doctor immediately.
It can take some time before people notice a difference in their symptoms when taking olanzapine. Some people may even notice their symptoms getting worse. However, it is important for people to continue taking the medication until they are able to talk to a doctor about the issue. Stopping the medication suddenly can cause dangerous withdrawal effects. Individuals who do need to stop this medication should only do so gradually and under the close monitoring of a doctor or mental health professional.
People should not use medications that increase drowsiness or slow breathing while taking olanzapine. These include cold or allergy medications, sleeping pills, narcotic pain medications, medications for seizures, muscle relaxers, and other medications for depression and anxiety. People who regularly use medication for Parkinson’s disease, carbamazepine, diazepam, fluoxetine-olanzapine, fluvoxamine, omeprazole, rifampin, and heart or blood pressure medications should also talk to a doctor before taking olanzapine.