Mechanisms of antipsychotic drugs

by Professor Gavin P. Reynolds


Last updated: June 2019


The pharmacological basis of the action of antipsychotic drugs is essential to understanding their effects and limitations in symptom relief, as well as their adverse effects.


This module will focus on the pharmacological mechanisms of the antipsychotic drugs that underlie their actions on the symptoms of schizophrenia. In doing so, it will address some important questions that relate to antipsychotic drug action including:


  • How should we subclassify the antipsychotic drugs? What is atypicality and is it a useful concept? Why is action at the dopamine D2 receptor so important?


  • How does antipsychotic drug pharmacology relate to the neuropathology of schizophrenia? Why do cognitive symptoms respond so poorly? What might underlie treatment resistance?


  • What makes clozapine different? Why are some antipsychotic drugs effective in relieving depressive symptoms? What underlies their efficacy in mania?


Start the module

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:

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First-episode psychosis: Part 2 – treatment approaches and service delivery by Dr Andrew Thompson, Dr Rick Fraser and Dr Richard Whale


An introduction to CBT in psychosis by Dr Prasanna N de Silva and Victoria Lumley


Podcast: Sexual dysfunction in first-episode psychosis by Dr Oliver Howes and Dr Tiago Reis Marques



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