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Risperdal (Risperidone) Withdrawal Symptoms + How Long Do They Last?

Risperdal (Risperidone) is an antipsychotic drug that is primarily used to treat schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder. In some cases it is used to help manage schizoaffective disorder as well as irritability among individuals with autism. It is considered an atypical antipsychotic due to the fact that it is newer and is supposed to have less side effects than the first-generation “typical” antipsychotics.

This drug functions as a dopamine antagonist, but also inhibits serotonin, epinephrine, and histamine to an extent. In some cases, this drug is even used as an antidepressant augmentation strategy. In other words, a psychiatrist may add on Risperdal to a preexisting antidepressant treatment to assess whether it provides additional relief from depressive symptoms.

As with any antipsychotic though, the longer you take it to treat your condition, the more difficulty you will have coming off of it and dealing with the discontinuation symptoms. I personally never recommend taking an antipsychotic for anything other than treating schizophrenia. Why? Because the side effects are pretty significant and upon discontinuation, most people experience powerful withdrawal symptoms.

The bottom line is that you should never take this drug unless you have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder that doesn’t respond to mood stabilizers. Additionally it should be mentioned that many people end up withdrawing from this medication due to unbearable side effects including: weight gain, metabolic changes, type 2 diabetes, tardive dyskinesia, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Factors that influence Risperdal withdrawal

When taking any psychiatric medication, there are factors that influence the severity of withdrawal and symptoms. Various factors that play an important role in discontinuation include: time you took the drug, your dosage, how quickly you tapered, as well as other individual factors (i.e. environment, individual physiology, etc.).

1. Time Span

How long did you take Risperdal? In general, the longer you take an antipsychotic, the more difficult it is to withdraw from. People that have been on an antipsychotic for a couple months should have an easier time withdrawing in comparison to those who have taken one for years. Additionally the longer you are on a drug, the more dependent you become on it for everyday functioning.

2. Dosage (.25 mg to 16 mg)

How much Risperdal did you take? People that take this medication for schizophrenia tend to need higher dosages to help manage symptoms. For schizophrenia, the average daily dose ranges between 4 mg to 16 mg. Individuals who take it for bipolar disorder generally take anywhere from 1 mg to 6 mg. Additionally those who have autism may take a very low dose from .25 mg to 3 mg to manage irritability.

Obviously the higher the dose you take, the more you are becoming dependent on the drug for functioning. Therefore it is always recommended to be on the minimal dose for symptom management. Being on the minimal dose makes withdrawal easier and also helps minimize unpleasant side effects. If you have been taking large amounts of Risperdal over an extended term, it is likely going to be much more difficult to withdraw from.

3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

It is never advised to quit a powerful antipsychotic drug like Risperdal “cold turkey.” If you quit without conducting a gradual taper, you may end up with an array of symptoms that are overwhelmingly difficult to cope with. By conducting a conservative gradual taper, you are allowing your nervous system to adjust to very small decreases in medication over time until you are down to 0 mg.

For Risperdal, it is recommended to reduce your current dose by 10% every 2 to 4 weeks depending on how well you are dealing with these decreases. If you are extremely sensitive to medications and withdrawals, it is recommended to stick with 10% decreases every month. Therefore if you were taking 2 mg of Risperdal, you would cut to 1.8 mg for the next month.

4. Individual Factors

Other factors that play a role in determining withdrawal symptoms include: individual physiology, environment, habits, and other drugs that you are taking. Someone who is on an array of psychiatric drugs in addition to Risperdal may have an easier time coping with the withdrawal and/or may not even notice when they taper down from this drug.

Additionally it should be noted that some people are less sensitive to withdrawal symptoms than others. Having good dietary habits, staying busy, and a social support network can go a long way to help cope with the withdrawal experience.

Risperdal Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Below is a list of common symptoms that people experience when they stop taking Risperdal. Understand that you may not experience all of these symptoms and the intensity of each one may vary. Your discontinuation process will be completely unique to you based on your circumstances.

  • Anxiety: Many people experience significant increases in overall anxiety. When withdrawing from any antipsychotic, if you notice that you become very anxious, understand that this is normal. Antipsychotics tend to sedate people and reduce feelings of anxiety. When you discontinue, you may notice that your arousal and anxiety spikes.
  • Appetite changes: A common experience on Risperdal is to gain weight while taking it. You may notice that when you discontinue, your appetite changes and you become less hungry and/or your appetite stabilizes.
  • Bipolar relapse: Individuals that take this medication for bipolar disorder may notice that their symptoms reemerge. In order to prevent this from happening, work closely with your doctor and consider conducting a more gradual taper. If a gradual taper isn’t working, you may want to try transitioning to a different medication.
  • Concentration problems: Antipsychotics are known to cause concentration difficulties while taking them. Additionally when you stop taking Risperdal, you may notice that you are unable to focus on anything. Just know that poor concentration is very common especially during the early phases of withdrawal.
  • Confusion: The combination of poor focus and memory problems can lead some individuals to experience a state of confusion. This confusion may be overwhelming and may lead a person to panic. If you feel confused as a result of your withdrawal, just know that it’s another fairly normal withdrawal symptom.
  • Crying spells: During withdrawal, you may experience spells of uncontrollable crying as a result of deep depression. The depression tends to be most severe during the first few weeks of withdrawal, therefore your crying spells should gradually improve.
  • Delusions: Some people experience delusions when they withdraw from Risperdal. Although this may signal a relapse for those diagnosed with schizophrenia, non-schizophrenics can also experience delusions during withdrawal. This has to do with changes in dopamine levels and receptor activity.
  • Depersonalization: When withdrawing from any antipsychotic, a person may experience feelings of depersonalization. In other words, they may feel unlike their normal self and as if they have been robbed of feeling “natural.” It is common to feel stressed, void of emotion, and almost robotic during withdrawal.
  • Depression: Many people actually take Risperdal to help ease depressive symptoms. Regardless of why you took this drug, experiencing deep depression during withdrawal is common. Most people feel severely depressed during the first few weeks of withdrawal.
  • Dizziness: Feeling dizzy is one of the most reported symptoms when withdrawing from any psychiatric drug. This symptom can be minimized by conducting a gradual withdrawal as opposed to quitting cold turkey. Some dizziness may last for weeks following your last dose, but should improve over time.
  • Fatigue: Many people report having little to no energy during the first couple weeks being drug-free. If you feel very lethargic and unable to get out of bed in the morning, the acute withdrawal is a likely culprit. Give your body and brain time to readjust and relearn how to function without the drug.
  • Hallucinations: If you have schizophrenia, you may experience hallucinations during withdrawal. Your brain becomes especially sensitive during withdrawal and this increased sensitivity and dopamine activity alteration could trigger hallucinations in susceptible individuals.
  • Headaches: Another extremely common symptom to experience when you quit taking Risperdal is headaches. You may experience minor headaches or very severe migraines – especially in the event that you taper too quickly.
  • Insomnia: In some cases this drug is actually prescribed off-label to help with insomnia. Withdrawal can lead to increases in anxiety, arousal, and sensitivity. It can also trigger uncontrollable insomnia. Some recommend taking melatonin if the insomnia is severe.
  • Irritability: You may notice yourself become increasingly irritable and edgy around others. Do your best to recognize that this irritability is caused by neurotransmitter fluctuations. Your brain is no longer operating under the influence of a drug that may have helped keep you calm – this can lead to irritability.
  • Memory problems: Some people report major memory problems after taking this drug. Antipsychotics are known to cause difficulties in cognitive processing and memory retrieval. Usually after a few weeks of withdrawal, your memory should start to improve.
  • Mood swings: You may experience mood swings during your withdrawal. Here I’m referring to crazy mood swings, but not “bipolar disorder.” One minute you may feel alright, the next you may feel very angry, the next very anxious and depressed. Understand that these changes in mood will improve the longer you are off of this drug.
  • Nausea: If you feel nauseous upon discontinuation, just know that you are not alone. Many people feel as though they are going to vomit. Feeling nauseated should gradually go away after the first week or so.
  • Panic attacks: The anxiety that people experience during withdrawal can be very intense. In fact it can be so intense that it triggers a panic attack. If you experience panic attacks, your best bet is to learn some relaxation exercises to lower your arousal.
  • Psychosis: It is known that withdrawal from antipsychotics can cause psychosis – even among people who are non-psychotic. Keep in mind that if you have schizophrenia or another illness with psychotic features, it is best to work with your psychiatrist to manage symptoms by transitioning to a different antipsychotic.
  • Sleep changes: You may notice changes in your sleep patterns when you initially withdraw. Some people report sleeping more than usual, others have difficulty sustaining a healthy amount of sleep. Understand that your sleep may be affected, especially during the first month or two after discontinuation.
  • Suicidal thoughts: It’s pretty common to experience suicidal thinking when you quit taking an antipsychotic. Many people that have been through withdrawal realize that the most intense suicidal thoughts are accompanied by anxiety and/or depression. These should gradually improve as your neurotransmitter levels adjust.
  • Sweating: Some individuals report profuse sweating all day for the first week(s) of withdrawal. If you notice that you are waking up during the night covered in sweat and/or are sweating intensely at work, it’s probably your body going through withdrawal.
  • Vomiting: The withdrawal period from this drug can make some people sick. Many exhibit flu-like symptoms for up to a full week as they readjust to functioning without the drug. This is more common in people who withdraw from higher doses that don’t conduct gradual tapers.
  • Weight loss: Since this is a medication that can lead to significant increases in weight, many people lose weight when they come off of it. This weight loss is usually not immediate, but may occur gradually over the course of a few weeks.

Risperidal Withdrawal: How Long Does It Last?

Although it would be nice if there were an exact Risperdal withdrawal timeline that could be followed, there’s not. Withdrawal lengthy and symptoms will vary based on the individual. Some people don’t really even notice much of a withdrawal when they come off of this drug, while others experience every symptom in the book. Just know that when it comes to withdrawing from any psychiatric medication – especially an antipsychotic, there are no “normal” symptoms.

If you experience something that you know is from withdrawal, trust your experience. Many people withdraw from Risperdal and report some pretty crazy symptoms, report them to their psychiatrist and the psychiatrist insists that these are not normal to experience during withdrawal. I cannot emphasize enough that it is important to trust your own instinct – you know more than anyone if the withdrawal created unwanted symptoms.

In most cases, people should start feeling more “normal” and have less withdrawal symptoms after they have been off of the drug for a full 90 days. I’m suggesting that it takes 3 months before most long-term antipsychotic users start to feel their discontinuation symptoms subside. If you have gone through Risperdal withdrawal and could share your experience in the comments section below, I’m sure someone would greatly appreciate some additional insight.

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{ 162 comments… add one }
  • Miserable June 28, 2018, 6:20 pm

    I was taken from 3mg per day (1mg 3x/day) and told to cut it in half for just one week, or I could go off cold turkey. I started abilify. I had the best doctor I’d ever had, but he was a resident and it was his last week.

    I started with these symptoms and called the clinic but my new doctor doesn’t start for another 2 weeks! The doctor on call had a nurse tell me it was an interaction with the abilify and stop the Risperdal completely. I dropped to half less than a week ago and cold turkey 2 days ago.

    I think I’m going to die! It’s really REALLY BAD! I’m a badass. I can get through anything. This is worse than giving birth without meds!!! And I don’t have these episodes like other people. It’s constant 24/7. I feel like I’m detoxing off heroin except it’s not getting better!

    No clue what the temp is. I’m burning up & freezing at the same time and my skin feels like it’s being peeled with a cheese grater! I’m dripping sweat constantly. I almost ruined my marriage last night, my other partner is now afraid of me.

    I can’t care for my 11 month old son safely because I forget he’s in the other room. I fall asleep sitting next to him or even while making food. I’m too weak, dizzy and jittery – and shouldn’t carry him around. At least I stopped puking!!!

    I just reached out to the doctor AGAIN. The nurse blew me off! This sounds like a very common side effect, so why do I feel like they think I’m a hypochondriac? I asked to speak to my doctor/ex-doctors attending, and I think the nurse is only telling the doctor on call which I DON’T want.

    Next step is to go into their psych ER dpt. I mean, this is REALLY BAD!!! The meds stabilized me. I approve of going on the meds in the first place. No one would help me and I finally found a hospital to admit me.

    I stand by how much it helped change my life. However… do your research for ANY medication. I hate that so many doctors aren’t tapering people like they should. But this med should be a last resort.

  • Alex June 25, 2018, 9:21 am

    I took this pill for my mood along with lamictal when I was 14 and I’ll put it this way: I gained 50 pounds and it was working okay (mostly good) but around the time I turned 18 it suddenly decided to only work when it wanted to work which was not all that often. It wasn’t until I turned 21 that the risperdal stopped working altogether and when I spoke with my doctor, we decided to wean myself off the slowest way possible.

    Worst part was, I still felt most of the withdrawal symptoms and they never stopped. Even the beginning stages are where it’s gonna be extremely challenging. I woke up every morning feeling clumsy, fuzzy-headed, easily anxious, doubtful, hopelessly miserable, OCD, paranoid. I had that thought in my head that said, “I have no idea what I’m doing here?”

    I read on lots of different websites about how hemp oil can help with trying to numb it down, but when I tried it, all it did was make me feel more negative than I was when I was before I even took it. I was easily tired, getting less than 4 hours of sleep a night and when it was snowing last winter I wore nothing but a tee shirt and jeans and didn’t even shiver 1 bit.

    Even though the THC/CBD industry itself has different products besides their oils, everyone reacts differently depending on what they’re taking and how high the dosage is. Sometimes manufacturers aren’t all that specific when labelling their products and those who purchased those items aren’t aware that they’re being scammed.

    Due to that happening out of all the times I kept ordering different flavors and dosages all because I wanted to simply calm down, it all added up to me losing $400. After I stopped taking the hemp oil I was doing fine for a week 1/2 but then half of my withdrawal symptoms from the risperdal came back, but they weren’t as bad as they used to be and they would only last for like 10-20 minutes.

    I’d feel fine for like an hour or 2 after it went away on its own, but then it would get worse and I’d need to vent to anyone I’m able to call and they’d take time out of their day to listen. It felt like living in a horror movie.

    What makes it worse is that you’ll never know when it’s gonna end and you’re gonna think it’s permanent but it’s really not. When you’re off the pill completely for a certain amount of time and it’s done by tapering the slowest way possible and NOT quitting cold turkey, then you’ll know that your mind is back to normal and you can get on with your life.

  • Stephenie June 5, 2018, 12:58 am

    My son was put on Risperdal in March due to psychosis from withdrawal symptoms from using marijuana wax. However, I took him off once I read about how this antipsychotic drug causes brain damage. My son is 17 years old. I tapered him off. The first week was the worst.

    I was with him 100 percent during this challenging time. I had him taking GABA daily, going to the gym for 1 hour, treadmill and weightlifting. Also, he takes flaxseed oil daily for the Omega 3,6,9. He was on this crap for 30 days only and it was horrible. It is definitely a mind control drug.

    I am a strong believer of the power of prayer. I did a lot of research on antipsychotic drugs and they are basically damaging folks brains and causing major depression, weight gain, and mood swings. It’s sad. My son is back to himself – being a happy normal person. Hallelujah!!!

  • Hilda June 4, 2018, 4:39 pm

    My son was in 4 mg, then weaned off in one week, when I went to go visit him in the residential facility, they gave me his meds to check him out for the weekend. I noticed he wasn’t on risperidone after just having visited him two weeks prior.

    They started him on abilify and was already at 10 mg which I know wasn’t the cause of his soon to be known symptoms. I asked the doctors to switch to abilify because he had been on it before and worked wonders for his positive symptoms. After only 10 minutes after we left for our weekend family visit, he had a severe “jolt” of pain throughout his chest and head.

    He clamped up like he was having a seizure. To make a long weekend short… the rest of the symptoms of withdrawal included: severe focus difficulty, could not have a conversation at all, severe sweating, cold chills, shaking, elevated heart rate at rest was 136 beats per minute, laughing uncontrollably followed by immediate mood swings of disgust…

    He would have a putrid look on his face and kept repeating “gross”, severe insomnia, slept only 5 hours all weekend, no sleep the first night, and 5 hours the second only after treating a migraine with over the counter meds, headache lasted all 3 days. Nausea, gagging and eventually vomiting, only once was he able to communicate how miserable he was, until paranoia set in.

    Then when I would ask him his symptoms or point them out, he said he was fine, and that I was exaggerating, and that I was just trying to get him thrown back to the hospital. What an absolute nightmare. It’s no wonder they claim to need these meds forever, because they put a hinder on allowing time to heal all wounds.

  • Victim May 11, 2018, 10:11 am

    Same story as many of you. Hospital visit turned nightmare. Forced onto risperdal without being told the risks or side effects. Shaking, tremors, difficulty breathing, numbness in face, stomach & bone pains (like something was poking or sticking out of me), loss off balance, weakness in legs, neck & back pain (random spots) etc.

    Long story short, I went off the drug cold turkey (worse thing you can ever do, do not do) sometime in 2017, been off ever since, very tough withdrawal battle, took approx. 1 year to sort of recover (sleep has been disturbed ever since but almost back in order, terrible thoughts & bad dreams / nightmares. Anyway lots of BS happened & the doctors wouldn’t even bat an eye.

    NEVER TAKE THIS DRUG IF YOU ARE CAPABLE AND WANT TO REMAIN THAT WAY. THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR THE PRESENT & ANY FUTURE READERS (HOPEFULLY THIS DRUG ISN’T AROUND ANYMORE). The End.

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