Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare, unexpected, and life-threatening reaction to the drugs that are commonly used in the treatment of psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. NMS is characterized by a very high high fever, increased heart and respiration rate, irregular pulse rate, altered mental state, muscle rigidity, and autonomic nervous system dysfunction. This response usually takes several weeks to set in but can occur anytime during treatment. Common risk factors include dehydration, agitation, and catatonia. A study on rapidly decreasing the use of L-dopa, a usual component in Parkinson’s treatments, can also trigger this reaction. This condition is treated by discontinuing the antipsychotic drugs that are causing the reaction. Patients can frequently be restarted on these antipsychotic medications at a lower dosage level.

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