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A Detailed Overview of Olanzapine

The active ingredient olanzapine is one of the essential remedies against schizophrenia. It was introduced to the German market in 1996 and is now widely used. It is generally considered better tolerated than the older neuroleptics but can lead to severe weight gain. Children and pregnant women should only take the active ingredient after consulting a doctor. Here you can read everything you need to know about olanzapine.

How Olanzapine Works?

In the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system), the interaction of various messenger substances ensures that one feels balanced and can react appropriately to specific situations (such as excitement, joy, fear, etc.). For this purpose, the various messenger substances (such as serotonin and dopamine) are released from nerve cells as required and later absorbed and stored.

This balance of messenger substances is disturbed in people who have schizophrenia.

The active ingredient olanzapine belongs to the group of so-called "atypical neuroleptics." It blocks specific docking sites (receptors) of serotonin and sometimes also of dopamine. The effect of the messenger substances can be brought back into balance - symptoms of schizophrenia improve. At the same time, olanzapine has a slightly calming effect and prevents mania (substantial increase in drive at times).

Uptake, Breakdown, and Excretion of Olanzapine

After being taken up by mouth (orally), the active ingredient is well absorbed from the intestine into the blood. After its distribution in the body, it is then broken down in the liver. The breakdown products are mainly excreted via the kidneys.

How Olanzapine Is Used?

The active ingredient olanzapine is usually taken in the form of tablets; in acute cases. The daily amount of active ingredient is usually ten milligrams. If necessary, the dosage can be increased gradually up to 20 milligrams per day.

The full effect of olanzapine only develops several days to weeks after the start of treatment.

What Are The Side Effects Of Olanzapine?

  • That is often in more than ten percent of those treated; olanzapine causes side effects such as┬áweight gain┬áand drowsiness.

  • Often (in one to ten percent of those treated), the treatment leads to blood count changes, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, and low blood pressure.

What Should Be Considered When Taking Olanzapine?

For the following diseases, the doctor should weigh the individual risk against the benefit before treatment with olanzapine and decide how to proceed:

  • Dementia

  • Diabetes


Patients with narrow-angle glaucoma (eye disease) should not take medication containing olanzapine.

  • Interactions

The epilepsy drug carbamazepine can weaken the effect of olanzapine by accelerating the breakdown of the active ingredient. Smoking has the same effect.

  • Driving and Using Machines

A side effect of taking olanzapine may be drowsiness and dizziness. Therefore, attention should be paid to the drug's individual reaction, especially at the beginning of treatment. Together with the doctor, it must then be decided whether active participation in road traffic or heavy machinery operation is possible.

  • Age Restrictions

There is minimal experience with the use of olanzapine in children and adolescents. Therefore, the treatment should only be carried out by very experienced doctors if the individual benefit outweighs the corresponding risk.

Final Words

According to experts, better-tested alternatives should be used during a pregnancy instead of olanzapine. However, if a pregnant woman is well adjusted to the active ingredient it can continue to be taken. Shortly after birth, the newborn may experience adjustment disorders, so medical care must be ensured.

So far, no infant problems have been noted during breastfeeding from the mother's treatment with olanzapine. Therefore, taking this active ingredient during breastfeeding is considered "acceptable."

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