Medical providers may have little expertise in navigating Zyprexa withdrawal. Antipsychotics are often prescribed at a time of crisis, leaving little time to consider the long-term side effects of Zyprexa that may be harmful.
The harshness of side effects may inspire one to consider other treatment options. Yet due to the way that these drugs upregulate dopamine receptors, trying to withdraw from them without proper support may result in a similar crisis. Let us help.
Do Your Symptoms
Alternative to Meds has been an expert on antipsychotic withdrawal for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our success. Commonly, other contributors to psychotic events were not addressed, such as horrific dietary habits, genetic variabilities, recreational drug use, poor quality sleep, and others that could be resolved holistically. Many of our staff have endured similar challenges, which is why they have chosen to help others in this way.
This video is the remarkable story of a young man labeled schizoaffective, who was basically discarded into the psychiatric system. Were it not for a mom who would not give up, the story would have likely ended there. Instead, he was brought to us, and we isolated food allergies, did a physiological reboot and got him off the antipsychotics.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Please be aware that Zyprexa withdrawals can be notoriously harsh. Drug-induced dyskinesias have been a concern associated with long-term treatment with neuroleptic drugs since 1964.22 Dyskinesias can emerge while on, or while withdrawing from, or after cessation of these medications. Lasse et al compiled a massive review of studies done on antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms, published in 2020 in Frontiers in Psychiatry, where the authors reported that withdrawals tended to be more severe in persons over the age of 50, and more severe in women than in men. Slow, conservative withdrawal is recommended in any case to avoid such critical adverse events. Physicians may not always be aware of the depth and breadth of the subject of drug-induced dyskinesias and other side effects, and withdrawal phenomena. Drug side effects and adverse events during withdrawal can appear similar to symptoms of an illness and care should be taken by caregivers not to misinterpret or mistakenly treat withdrawals or drug side effects as returning or newly emerging mental illness. Dilsaver and Alessi note in their 1988 review of antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms that the timing of when these present can help to distinguish between psychotic relapse or withdrawal reactions.16 In a BMC Psychiatry Journal published review, it was found that in 448 psychiatric patients in Japanese inpatient care, 338 medication errors occurred. The study authors advised better patient monitoring as the psychiatrists were unfamiliar with the medications they were prescribing. More than half of all adverse drug reactions in their study were from drugs in the antipsychotic class, such as Zyprexa.12,14,15
Zyprexa withdrawal symptoms include:
Dopamine supersensitivity psychosis, mania, hallucinations, notably after long-term use and drug-induced upregulation of dopamine receptors13
Tardive dyskinesia, motor movement disorders, hyperkinesia, can last for months, sometimes incurable5,16,17,18
OCG, oculogyric crisis, a condition where the eyes involuntarily deviate upwards12,13
Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, can persist for days and weeks18,19
Dry mucous membranes18
Tachycardia (rapid heartbeat at rest)18
Insomnia, can last for days or weeks or longer19
Anxiety, panic, restlessness, tension18
Myalgia, soreness in ligaments, tendons, soft connecting tissue18
**Alblowi’s study published in 2015 reported on the onset of tardive dyskinesia in a young woman who had been taking antipsychotic medication for 2 years. TD emerged when the dosage was reduced. Movement disorders can occur in 20 to 50% of persons on antipsychotic medication long term. The symptoms may not go away even after completely stopping Zyprexa, according to the FDA drug label and other sources.5,20,21
Zyprexa Withdrawal and Dopamine
There is some indication that Zyprexa blocks dopamine from the D2 receptor, which is likely what calms manic or agitated symptomology. In an effort to adapt to this dopamine deficiency, the body builds new dopamine receptors. This is thought to explain, at least in part, why withdrawal from the medication can be so incredibly harsh, even to be considered worse than heroin or benzodiazepine withdrawals.
Zyprexa restricts the expression of dopamine while it is being taken. But when the drug is reduced, even by small increments, dopamine expression will come back, flooding receptors and potentially turning on a rapid onset of mania. Withdrawal from Zyprexa or other dopamine blockers must be done conservatively, very slowly to allow the very intricately designed CNS to gradually return to a normal function.
Zyprexa is believed to influence multiple types of neurotransmitters and receptors and even after a few weeks of being on Zyprexa, the shock that can ensue when the dose is even gradually reduced can result in some acute and intolerable symptoms that can affect the entire body. The often-repeated warning, “Never abruptly stop taking antipsychotic medications” applies. It is much preferable to do a slow, carefully monitored taper in an inpatient, fully supportive atmosphere, with trained professionals familiar with safe drug tapering. The level of discomfort may be too great to bear on your own. Unfortunately, many people are forced to stay on the drug just to avoid getting too sick to function at work and cope with everyday life. We encourage that you seek help from professionals who are familiar with safe prescription drug tapering.
Zyprexa Withdrawal Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center
At Alternative to Meds Center, we provide safe and gentle withdrawal treatment for Zyprexa and other antipsychotic medications in a pristine, comfortable inpatient setting. A battery of tests is done early on to determine whether there are accumulations of neurotoxins in the body. Heavy metals, pesticides, pollutants in air and water, and other sources can be identified and gently removed through cleansing methods. These include nebulized glutathione treatments. low-temperature sauna, chelation, and eliminating chemicals and preservatives from the diet.
When the client is stable, eating well, sleeping well, then we can begin the slow and gentle taper process. Adding targeted supplements to the diet also assists in rebalancing and normalizing neurochemistry.
Dopamine is only one of many chemicals that are affected by Zyprexa. We can imagine that similar interruptions and chaotic responses are going on in other areas of the brain and the central nervous system, potentially causing significant unusual, unpredictable reactions and cross-reactions. This can be very hard on a person who is also perhaps mentally fatigued or confused, and who may become resistant to taking direction. These circumstances can make the situation very difficult to manage.
If despite best efforts to guide a patient, there is yet an unwillingness or inability to adhere to tapering guidelines, preparing a voluntary safety contract, sometimes called a “Ulysses Contract” will help keep things on track should the person become resistive to following the doctor’s orders.25 We recommend inpatient antipsychotic withdrawal treatment. Where this is not possible, try to work closely with a doctor who has hospital admitting privileges and who is familiar with drug cessation, to retain control and safety for the patient. Then once the patient is stabilized, the taper may be resumed at a slower pace, with the patient’s cooperation. Slow, guided tapering can help a person transition to drug-free living, or at least to the lowest point possible that still provides for a satisfying quality of life.
Choosing Competent Care for Zyprexa Withdrawal
A note about choosing health care professionals to work with: there have been cases reported on health forums and social media sites such as going to the hospital with severe withdrawals from antipsychotic medication, but finding out that prescription medication withdrawals are often not recognized by emergency or other doctors. It is indeed unfortunate that medical school training does not include how to recognize withdrawal symptoms and how to help a person come off a potent drug such as Zyprexa. This appears to be a worldwide phenomenon, not just in the US.15 This can lead to such heartbreaking events as the person being told they are imagining things, and just sending them home to suffer alone. We do need to be aware of what we are putting into our bodies, and we also need to know who we can trust and rely on for medical and mental health support.6
General Information on Zyprexa
Zyprexa (olanzapine) is an SGA or second-generation atypical antipsychotic medication.
Drug-makers glibly state that Zyprexa changes chemicals in the brain. A more careful look finds that more needs to be known about how this medication works exactly. Zyprexa is prescribed to treat psychosis and schizophrenia symptoms. Antipsychotics have a nearly immediate dampening effect on emotions, hallucinations, mania, and other presentations associated with schizophrenia and psychosis. They have a useful role in bringing a crisis under control. However, long-term use is associated with many problems, including the fact that they stop working after some time.22
The FDA issued Black Box warnings on virtually all antipsychotic medications in use today including Zyprexa oral as well as its extended-release injectable versions. These warnings also apply to any compounds that have olanzapine as an ingredient in them. Be safe and find out about a medication before you begin a prescription, to make sure it is the best choice for you, and also learn as much as you can about safe Zyprexa withdrawal.
WARNING: Please note that an elderly patient with signs of dementia-related psychosis should not be prescribed olanzapine because of the increased risk of death.5
Below are various topics that are frequently asked about Zyprexa, its effects, characteristics of withdrawal, and other information that may help contribute to making an informed decision regarding starting or stopping this medication.
What Is Zyprexa (olanzapine) Used For?
Zyprexa is an antipsychotic medication that is FDA approved, with certain age restrictions, for the treatment of schizophrenia, mixed episodes of bipolar, and for psychoses. It should not be prescribed in the elderly population where dementia-related psychosis symptoms are present, and should not be prescribed under the age of 13 due to an increased risk of suicidality.
Over the years, various off-label uses have emerged and have been documented by the National Institute of Mental Health, who warns that there is no strong body of evidence supporting the efficacy of such uses of the drug for symptoms like agitation, anxiety, obsessive behaviors, and similar.1
However, despite these cautions expressed by NIMH and other researchers, the makers of Zyprexa engaged in promoting such practices. As a result, Eli Lily has agreed to pay out an astounding figure, roughly $1.4 billion in lawsuits filed against the drug company for promoting and marketing such off-label uses of its drug Zyprexa, which figure amounts to one of the largest single corporate fine ever paid out in history.2
Astoundingly, these payouts have been topped for similar misleading practices by Abbot Laboratories at $1.5 billion,11 Johnson and Johnson at $2.2 billion,10 Pfizer at $2.3 billion,9 and GlaxoSmithKline at a whopping $3 billion.8
Consumers are cautioned to research a drug, including the FDA Black Box warnings, and investigate the way the drug works and side effects to expect, before deciding if a drug is the best choice.
Off-Label (unapproved) Uses for Zyprexa
Certain compound drugs may contain olanzapine, such as Zyprexa Zydis. Zyprexa and related compound drugs are sometimes prescribed off-label, for unapproved uses. A useful summary authored by Corell et al covers off-label uses of Zyprexa (olanzapine) and cautions that there is no strong evidence of efficacy for any off-label use.24 Here are some of the off-label uses reported:
OCD, obsessive-compulsive disorder
Tourette’s syndrome in children or teens
Zyprexa (olanzapine) Alternative Names and Slang
Zyprexa is one of the hundreds, perhaps thousands of brand names for olanzapine. The drug has been a financial blockbuster for all the pharmaceutical companies around the world who make the drug. It is not sought after or known as a street drug except perhaps as a diverted drug, so Zyprexa has not developed slang or street names in the illicit drug trade.
Some other trade names include Zyprexa Sydis, Olanzapina Arrowblue, Olanzapine Torrent, Jolyon, Dopin, Marathon, Kozylex, Olanazpine SUN, and many others.
Zyprexa Side Effects (olanzapine)
Side effects from taking Zyprexa have been a controversial subject since 2006 when some documents leaked from Eli Lily were revealed by the New York Times. These documents described illegal marketing practices, promoting illegal off-label uses of the drug, and that the company downplayed the side effects of Zyprexa in order to prevent a drop in sales.2,5,6,7,8,9,10,11
Below is a list of known side effects, including some of the most severe:5,26,27
Tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder that is, sadly, irreversible in the majority of cases which causes involuntary facial movements like tongue rolling, grimaces, lip-smacking, etc.
Life-threatening allergic reaction, causing high fever, stiff rigid muscles, profuse sweating, confusion, coma, shaking, tachycardia, and can be fatal
Suicidal ideation, thoughts about harming yourself
Increased levels of prolactin, causing a woman to lose her menstrual cycle, to begin lactating, and causing males to develop breasts and experience impotence
Seizures, tremors, shaking
High blood sugar, can lead to diabetes, weight gain, drowsiness, blurred vision, etc.
DRESS, a condition of multi-organ hypersensitivity, a potentially fatal condition
Yellowing of the eye whites or skin, which can indicate liver damage
Akathisia, profound internal restlessness, constant movement, intolerable to endure, inability to stop moving, can lead to suicidality for relief
Sudden flu-like symptoms, i.e., fever, chills, general malaise, weakness, aches
Changes in behavior or personality, mood swings, can be rapid
Parasomnias are acts done while sleeping, including sleep-walking, sleep-talking, leaving the home to go out running or shopping, driving, having sex, moving possessions, all while “asleep.” The patient wakes up confused and does not recall doing these actions.
Pavor nocturnes, night terrors, usually involve screaming, flailing, kicking, panic, and terror when still asleep
Abdominal or stomach pain
Memory loss, amnesia
Inability to articulate speech clearly
Pins and needles or numbness in extremities
Pains or aches, especially common in arms and legs
Zyprexa (olanzapine) FAQs
Below are a number of topics that may be helpful in understanding more about Zyprexa withdrawal, including what Zyprexa does to the brain, interactions with other drugs, and more.
What Does Zyprexa Do to the Brain?
Zyprexa has a known chemical structure which determines or models how the drug is manufactured in the lab. It has a molecular weight of 312.44 and a specific combination of atoms. But beyond the recipe as such, there is little known about how exactly the drug works within the brain and central nervous system.
We do know that Zyprexa is a member of a class of drugs called thienobenzodiazepines. This tells us that Zyprexa is an antipsychotic medication that is similar to benzodiazepines, both being gabaminergic in effect. However, Zyprexa additionally deflects or blocks many other types of brain chemicals besides GABA, including dopamine. Therefore, Zyprexa allows numerous types of neurotransmitters to accumulate at receptor sites.4
More research needs to be done to understand the mechanisms of action of drugs like Zyprexa more thoroughly.
What Other Medications Interact With Olanzapine?
When a person begins a prescription of Zyprexa, the central nervous system and the brain will undergo some changes and reactions influencing certain natural chemicals that the body creates called neurotransmitters. There is more to be known about exactly how Zyprexa impacts these factors. The same can be generally said regarding every other drug that is on the market today. Taking more than one drug simultaneously could change the way the drugs act in the CNS, either increasing or decreasing their effects.
For example, alcohol and other psychoactive or medicinal drugs can interact with olanzapine and may make a person so drowsy that they should not operate machinery or drive a car. Smoking cigarettes can dilute the concentration of olanzapine in the blood, as another example.3
Always inform your prescriber of any drug use and ask for information about potential interactions that may occur because of other drugs your doctor prescribes.
How Long Does Zyprexa Stay in Your System?
After ingesting Zyprexa, metabolites can test positive in the urine for approximately 4-10 days.
However, this time period may have little relation to the time it may take to fully adjust to being off Zyprexa. There is a high probability that affected receptors upregulated themselves, in response to the drug.7
It would follow that a person could experience some degree of over-stimulation, including manic symptoms, as a result of the neuroadaptive characteristics induced by the drug. The time needed for these receptors to return to normal is indefinite, depending on such factors as genetics, length of use, dietary habits including caffeine or other stimulants, and could take months to years.
How Long Does Zyprexa Withdrawal Last?
A person should never abruptly stop taking Zyprexa as the shock to the body can be severe and intolerable. Even with a slow taper, especially without proper support, withdrawals can tend to be long-lasting, and near to impossible to tolerate.
Where the drug was taken long-term, seek professional help to avoid lingering Zyprexa withdrawal symptoms. These can last for weeks, months, or even years without adequate support and Zyprexa withdrawal protocols in place. Sometimes antipsychotic drug withdrawals can be severe and last for weeks or months, even after only a few weeks of taking these medications.
Treatment for Zyprexa Dependence, Abuse, and Addiction
Zyprexa affects a wide number of neurotransmitter receptors in the body and may have an initial effect of sedation or calming. Also, for those with depression, perhaps it will garner a temporary lift or rise in mood. However, the central nervous system can become altered after the regular use of such a drug, resulting in drug dependence. The side effects that can present with Zyprexa can also be challenging, and a person may opt to come off the drug where the benefits of the medication are not outweighing the negatives. When this occurs, especially when disadvantaged with multiple health challenges, there could be quite a challenge to come off the drug.
Families often are hit the hardest when a loved one is experiencing such difficulties. There may be a better choice than continuing on a path where hope is all but lost and the pain and suffering seem to go on without abatement. It is difficult to watch a loved one suffer.
Enrolling at Alternative to Meds Center provides stress-free, superlative care for anyone seeking to recover from Zyprexa side effects and Zyprexa withdrawals. Our center is staffed with medical professionals and caregivers who understand medication withdrawal and the depth and breadth of the challenges. Compassionate and efficient care is the hallmark of our center.
You may have questions relating to your insurance coverage, or you may need other information that will help in making treatment decisions. We are here to help you. Please feel free to contact us at Alternative to Meds Center for more information on these matters, and about the alternatives and protocols used in our individually tailored, safely monitored, and comfortable Zyprexa withdrawal treatment programs.
13. Chouinard G, Samaha AN, Chouinard VA, Peretti CS, Kanahara N, Takase M, Iyo M. Antipsychotic-Induced Dopamine Supersensitivity Psychosis: Pharmacology, Criteria, and Therapy. Psychother Psychosom. 2017;86(4):189-219. doi: 10.1159/000477313. Epub 2017 Jun 24. PMID: 28647739. [cited 2021 May 12]
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.