If you have schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder, particularly an acute depressive episode, your doctor may prescribe you a daily pill called lurasidone (Latuda). It’s an atypical or second-generation antipsychotic (SGA). Like other SGAs, it balances your dopamine and serotonin levels. These are hormones that affect your mood, thoughts, or actions.
If you see or hear things that aren’t there (this is called hallucinating), the medicine might stop it. And you may find it easier to be around people. But like any drug, it can cause unwanted side effects. Some are mild, but others can be serious. Here’s what can happen if you or your child take this medicine.
Muscle Movement Problems
Restlessness. You may get a strong urge to fidget and move around, called akathisia. It’s more likely in the first few weeks or months you’re on the drug. It’s different than agitation or anxiety. But sometimes you may not be able to tell the difference. If it doesn’t go away, tell your doctor. They may want to change your dose.
Extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS). Your muscles might move or twitch on their own. Or you may find it hard to move. Like with akathisia, you may get fewer symptoms on a lower dose. It might get better if you take lurasidone at night.
Common signs of EPS include:
- Repeated muscle contractions (dystonia)
- Urge to move around (akathisia)
- Slow movement or inability to bend (parkinsonism)
Tardive dyskinesia. Rarely, you may not be able to control the muscles in your face and upper body. You may smack your lips, move your jaw, or push out your tongue. This can happen after you use antipsychotics for a long time. You’re more likely to get it if you are older, female or have a mood disorder. But your chances may be lower on lurasidone than older drugs of this type.
It may stop once you quit your medicine. But sometimes, you may not be able to reverse it.
Metabolic Changes and Weight Gain
Atypical antipsychotics can make you hungrier. They may affect how your body uses energy. Some can raise your blood sugar or cholesterol levels. This can increase your chances of diabetes and heart disease.
But when compared to similar drugs, lurasidone may lead to less weight gain and fewer metabolism problems.
Your doctor may want to monitor your weight. They may want to keep an eye on your glucose and cholesterol levels.
Raised Prolactin Levels
Your body may make more of a hormone called prolactin when you’re on lurasidone, especially if you’re female. It may lead to a missed period or unwanted breast milk. If you’re male, you may be unable to get an erection. You may have less desire for sex.
If your prolactin levels are high for months or years, your bones could get weak (osteoporosis). This can make them more likely to break.
Other Mild Side Effects
You may get a strong urge to sleep on lurasidone. You shouldn’t drive when you take it until you know how you respond to it. You may feel sick to your stomach. Less commonly, you may throw up or get indigestion. Rarely, you could drool.
Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)
Rarely, lurasidone can cause deadly symptoms. NMS can affect your heart, muscles, and kidneys. See your doctor right away if you get:
- A high fever
- Stiff muscles
- A change in your mood or behavior
- Irregular heartbeat or blood pressure
- A fast heart rate
- A lot of sweating
These symptoms could be a sign of another medical condition. If lurasidone is the problem, you’ll stop taking it right away.
Common Side Effects in the Young
Teens (13-17) with schizophrenia who take this drug most often have:
- A need to move around (akathisia)
- Slow or difficult movement
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscles that shake (tremor)
- Runny nose or other cold symptoms
- Throwing up
Children (10-17) who have bipolar depression who take it may have:
- Weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
There’s a chance that antidepressants can add to suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children or young adults. If you’re under 24, you should watch for any behavior changes, especially during the first few months of treatment.
Who Should Be Careful Taking Lurasidone
If you have bipolar disorder, lurasidone may slightly raise your chances of a manic or hypomanic episode.
If you have cardiovascular disease, lurasidone can make your blood pressure drop when you stand up. You may get dizzy or faint.
Who Shouldn’t Take Lurasidone
If you’re elderly and have dementia-related psychosis, you shouldn’t take lurasidone. It may raise your chances of stroke or death. It might make you sleepy and lightheaded. You could find it hard to swallow. This could make you more likely to fall or choke.
What Else You Should Know
This medicine may not work as well if you drink alcohol or use illegal drugs. Your side effects, like sleepiness, may be worse.
Lurasidone can make it hard for your body to cool itself. Tell your doctor if you exercise a lot or if you’re going to be somewhere that’s hot. Be sure to drink enough water.
Don’t drink grapefruit juice while you’re on lurasidone. It can raise the amount of the drug in your body.
If you want to get pregnant, talk to your doctor about your medicine. It may not be safe for you or your baby if your schizophrenia goes untreated. But your baby could have movement problems or withdrawal symptoms if they’re exposed to antipsychotic drugs later in your pregnancy.
Talk to your doctor before you breastfeed. Experts aren’t sure if lurasidone will get into your breast milk.
Your side effects may go away with time. But you should tell your doctor about any symptoms that bother you or that you can’t control. You’ll need long-term treatment for your schizophrenia. So even if you feel better, don’t stop taking your medicine. Your symptoms could come back if you miss a dose.