Which medications in the drug class Antipsychotics are used in the treatment of Delirium?

Updated: Apr 25, 2019
  • Author: Kannayiram Alagiakrishnan, MD, MBBS, MPH, MHA; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
  • Print


This class of drugs are the medication of choice in the treatment of psychotic symptoms of delirium. Older antipsychotics such as haloperidol, a high-potency antipsychotic, are useful but have adverse neurological effects. Newer neuroleptics such as risperidone, olanzapine, and quetiapine relieve symptoms while minimizing adverse effects. Initial doses may need to be higher than maintenance doses. Use lower doses in patients who are elderly. Discontinue these medications as soon as possible. Attempt a trial of tapering the medication once symptoms are in control. Antipsychotics can be associated with adverse neurological effects such as extrapyramidal symptoms, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, and tardive dyskinesia. Longer term use is also associated with metabolic syndrome. Doses should be kept as low as possible to minimize adverse effects. Paradoxical and hypersensitivity reactions may occur.

Haloperidol (Haldol)

A butyrophenone high-potency antipsychotic. One of most effective antipsychotics for delirium. High-potency antipsychotic medications also cause less sedation than phenothiazines and reduce risks of exacerbating delirium.

Risperidone (Risperdal)

A newer antipsychotic with fewer extrapyramidal adverse effects than Haldol. Binds to dopamine D2-receptor with 20 times lower affinity than for 5-HT2-receptor. Improves negative symptoms of psychoses and reduces incidence of adverse extrapyramidal effects.

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!