Sulpiride is a medication used to treat schizophrenia. In a class of medications known as antipsychotics, it has met with marginal success in treating schizophrenic patients. It is not available in all countries, with some areas still conducting safety tests and others having discontinued it.
The medication acts to interfere with some of the chemical signals that are sent back and forth through the brain. Known as a selective dopamine D2 antagonist, one of the main chemicals sulpiride interferes with is dopamine. In the case of individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, there is typically a higher than normal amount of dopamine in the brain. This causes the brain to become overactive, and with that overstimulation comes higher emotions and undesirable, often disruptive or dangerous behavior.
Sulpiride acts by blocking the brain's ability to receive the high amount of dopamine that is released, and instead helps to maintain normal levels. This has been found to have a significant impact on a wide variety of symptoms associated with schizophrenia, from a complete lack of emotion to hallucinations and aggressive behavior. Since dopamine helps govern the way in which an individual expresses him or herself, bringing the levels into balance can help manage behavioral issues.
In some cases, sulpiride is also coupled with another medication to treat other conditions. Studies have shown, for example, that sulpiride can have a positive impact on individuals with Tourette's syndrome, lessening the number of involuntary movements and tics from which they suffer. Those with anxiety disorders, obsessive thoughts and other types of neurosis have shown some improvement with treatments that involve this medication, but tests are ongoing. Sulpiride has also been found to reduce some of the outward symptoms of Huntington's disease as well as increase the healing rate of ulcers when coupled with other drugs.
There are a number of side effects associated with the drug, though many disappear as the body adjusts to the medication. Restlessness and uncontrollable movement, an irregular heartbeat, shaking, insomnia, headaches and dry mouth are common occurrences. Gastrointestinal distress, such as constipation or diarrhea, is not uncommon. Some women can experience changes in their menstrual cycle and tenderness in the breasts as well.
The medication has been deemed unsafe for use in children as well as in individuals with some pre-existing conditions. For example, sulpiride can be dangerous for those who have been diagnosed with liver or kidney disease, breast cancer, or some blood disorders. It is generally not recommended for pregnant women or those who are breastfeeding, as there is a danger to the child in both instances.