Several placebo-controlled clinical trials suggest that Risperdal, the branded version of the drug risperidone, can reduce symptoms of schizophrenia in both the long term and the short term. However, individual responses to the drug vary.

The above information comes from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Risperdal is a standard first-line treatment for schizophrenia. It is an atypical antipsychotic, which means it can treat psychosis, the main symptom of schizophrenia.

However, Risperdal does not work for everyone, and some people stop using the drug because of side effects.

Read on to learn more about Risperdal for schizophrenia.

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The FDA has approved Risperdal, a brand-name version of risperidone, to treat schizophrenia.

It is part of a group of second-generation antipsychotic drugs that doctors usually choose as the first option for treating schizophrenia. It is available in both injectable and pill forms.


Several studies have found that Risperdal is effective at treating schizophrenia, though the effectiveness varies from study to study.

For example, a 2019 review found that risperidone could offer greater improvements than a placebo in treating schizophrenia. However, in one of the included studies, risperidone had a higher dropout rate than other treatments.

The authors of a different 2019 review compared risperidone with other schizophrenia treatments. They concluded that risperidone, clozapine, and olanzapine are significantly superior treatment options to other second-generation antipsychotics.


Risperidone does not work right away. A person taking the medication may not notice symptom improvement for several days or even weeks. As a result, it is critical to complete the course of risperidone treatment.

Second-generation antipsychotics work by affecting chemical signals and signal receptors in the brain. A 2019 study suggests that a person’s genes might influence their response to Risperdal.

The researchers found that the KCNH7 gene correlated with how well Risperdal worked. KCNH7 is a gene that primarily expresses in the brain, so it may affect a person’s mental health and treatment response.

A person should discuss the ideal dosage with their doctor.

The safest way to take risperidone is to start with a relatively low dose and then gradually increasing the dose based on how well a person responds.

Food does not affect Risperdal absorption, so a person can take the drug with or without eating.

A person who chooses injectable risperidone must visit a healthcare professional every 2 weeks to get their medication.

For oral Risperdal, the effective dose varies among age groups.

Adults with schizophrenia will require 4–16 milligrams (mg) per day. The target dose is often 2–8 mg per day. Doctors may start a person with 2 mg daily before increasing the dose by 1–2 mg based on the person’s response to treatment.

For teenagers with schizophrenia, the dose is slightly lower, at 1–6 mg per day. Doctors may initiate treatment at 0.5 mg daily and titrate the dose up by 0.5–1 mg daily.

The injectable form is a long-acting injection that a person can receive only under the direction of a doctor. A person cannot self-administer it at home. The typical dose is 25–50 mg every 2 weeks. A person should try oral Risperdal first to ensure that they can safely take the drug.

Risperidone causes several side effects, including:

  • Elevated prolactin: Increases in this hormone level may decrease fertility and sperm count, cause sexual dysfunction, decrease vaginal lubrication, and cause pain during sex. Around 45–80% of males and 30–80% of females experience this symptom.
  • Weight gain: Risperidone may affect a person’s metabolism and thyroid, causing them to gain weight.
  • Movement issues: Risperidone may cause uncontrolled movements, shaking, or tremors. It may cause the movement disorder tardive dyskinesia.
  • Sedation: Risperidone makes some people feel tired or experience brain fog.
  • Blood glucose issues: Risperidone may elevate blood glucose, causing diabetes or symptoms of insulin resistance.
  • Mortality increase: Among older people with dementia, risperidone may increase the risk of dying from any cause.
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: This life threatening complication can cause fever, confusion, high blood pressure, rapid breathing, and physical rigidity. It requires emergency medical care.

Starting with a low dose and then gradually increasing the dose based on how well a person responds to treatment can reduce the severity of side effects.

People should discuss any side effects they experience with a healthcare professional, especially if those side effects mean that they want to stop taking Risperdal.

Antipsychotic drugs are the standard treatment for schizophrenia.

If a person does not do well on Risperdal, their doctor may suggest adding another antipsychotic or replacing Risperdal with another antipsychotic.

Other antipsychotic drugs that can treat schizophrenia include:

If these drugs do not work, a doctor may recommend switching to an earlier developed antipsychotic such as:

  • fluphenazine
  • haloperidol
  • sulpiride
  • chlorpromazine
  • haloperidol

Learn more about the different antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia here.

Other treatments

A person may need other medications to treat schizophrenia symptoms.

Benzodiazepines, a group of antianxiety drugs, may help treat schizophrenia-related anxiety and manage some behavioral issues.

Non-medication treatments can complement medication, helping a person further reduce symptoms and better manage their schizophrenia.

Some additional schizophrenia treatment options are:

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health condition that has no cure. However, treatment can help a person reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Risperdal is one of several second-generation antipsychotic drugs that can reduce symptoms of schizophrenia.

However, everyone responds differently to treatment, and it is impossible to predict how any individual will do on an antipsychotic medication.

For this reason, a person should tell their doctor about any symptoms or treatment side effects they experience and work with their doctor to find a treatment that minimizes side effects while easing their schizophrenia symptoms.