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What is risperidone?

Risperidone is pronounced ‘ris-perry-doan’.

Risperidone (also called Risperdal®) is mainly used to help treat the symptoms of the symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia and mania, and to prevent these symptoms coming back. It can also help symptoms of ADHD, bipolar mood disorder, and to help reduce aggression and anger in someone with autism or conduct disorder.

It is one of a group of medicines called antipsychotics or neuroleptics.

It is made as tablets, melt-in-the-mouth tablets, a syrup and a long-acting injection.


Risperidone is often used in adults but it is not “licensed” or officially approved for people under the age of 18. This is because it has not been fully studied in this younger age group. If you are under 18 you may be offered this medicine because we have experience of it and we know it helps adults.

What does risperidone help?

Risperidone can help with psychosis (or ‘losing touch with reality’) including:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  • delusions (thinking something is true when is it not)

Risperidone can also help with aggression and other symptoms.

How and when should I take risperidone?

Swallow the capsules with some water whilst sitting or standing. This is to make sure that they reach the stomach and do not stick in your throat.

For the liquid, use a medicine spoon, dropper or oral syringe.

For the melt-in-the-mouth tablets, just put them on your tongue and they will dissolve quickly.

Taking it at mealtimes may make it easier for you to remember as there is no problem about taking risperidone with or after food.

If the label says to take it once a day this is usually best at bedtime as it may make you drowsy at first.

How long will I have to wait before it works?

This will depend on what you are taking it for.

The effect usually starts in a week or so, and builds over several weeks.

How long will I need to take risperidone for?

This will depend on what you are taking it for. You may need to take it for several months or years.

What if I do not want to take risperidone anymore?

Do not stop taking risperidone suddenly.

It is better not to do this without talking it over first with other people such as your family, prescriber, nurse, pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

It normally works out much better if you stop medication in a planned way at a time when your stress levels are lower, rather around exam times, mid-winter and life events.

Your symptoms can return if treatment is stopped too early. This may happen some weeks or even months after you stop taking risperidone.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

Start again as soon as you remember if within about 12 hours of your next dose. After this just take the next dose as normal.

Do not try to catch up by taking 2 doses at once as you may get more side-effects.

Can I cycle or drive while I am taking risperidone?

You may feel a bit light-headed at first when taking risperidone.

Until this wears off, or you know how risperidone affects you, be careful cycling and, do not drive or operate machinery.

What are the side effects of risperidone?

Very common

More than 1 in 10 people may get these:

  • Movement disorders having shaky or stiff hands. It is not dangerous but if it upsets you, tell your prescriber and you may be able to get a medicine for it.
  • Restlessness and feeling on edge. You may feel happier when moving around. Try and relax by taking deep breaths. Tell your prescriber and you may be able to get a medicine for it.
  • Postural hypotension. This is a drop in blood pressure when your stand up. To avoid this, stand up slowly. Discuss this with your prescriber next time you meet.


Fewer than 1 in 10 people may get these:

  • Fatigue and sleepiness. This may happen early on and usually wears off. If you feel like this for more than a week after starting, tell your prescriber. It may be possible to adjust your dose slightly.
  • Raised prolactin can affect breasts (leaking milk), and cause irregular or no periods. It can also cause impotence (cannot get an erection) and breast growth in men. Speak with your prescriber and ask for a blood test.
  • Constipation and not being able to poo. Make sure you eat enough fibre, cereals or fruit, drink enough fluid, and keep active. If this does not help, ask your
    prescriber or pharmacist for a mild laxative.
  • Weight gain, manage this with a healthy and varied diet, and exercise.

Rare side effects

Please see your prescriber if you get any of these rare side effects:

  • Finding it hard to wee or having to go to the toilet more often. Not being able to fully empty your bladder. See your prescriber as soon as possible and they may change your medicine to help.
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a fever, sweating, confusion, racing heart, muscle stiffness and difficulty moving. See your prescriber straight away if you have had a change in dose or taken other antipsychotics.
  • Priapism is a painful, unexpected erection that will not go away. See your prescriber straight away.

Some side effects are the brain getting used to a medicine and these usually wear off in a few days or weeks. Starting slower may help. If you think you might have a side effect, you should ask your prescriber, pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: MH80

Resource Type: Article

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