Researchers Discover How Antipsychotics Lead To Parkinsonism


A new study published this month in the journal Neuron identifies the mechanism by which antipsychotic drugs can induce parkinsonism, a condition involving movement abnormalities.  The researchers found that antipsychotics block D2 dopamine receptors in a part of the brain called the striatum, specifically acting on interneurons in this area, leading to problems with movement.

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Kharkwal, G., Brami-Cherrier, K., Lizardi-Ortiz, J.E., Nelson, A.B., Ramos, M., Del Barrio, D., Sulzer, D., Kreitzer, A.C. and Borrelli, E., 2016. Parkinsonism Driven by Antipsychotics Originates from Dopaminergic Control of Striatal Cholinergic Interneurons. Neuron, 91(1), pp.67-78.


  1. They seriously just figured this out? Seems kind of obvious to me, notwithstanding the specific receptors involved. Parkinson’s results from low dopamine production, suppressing dopamine produces Parkinson’s symptoms. Should not be surprising to anyone.

    —- Steve

  2. I understand that these kinds of drugs are the best that we have for now, and that doctors feel the need to do something for their patients who are suffering. But some day we are all going to look back on this era of medications and treatments in horror. This has always raised serious questions in my mind, if these meds are really supposed to be reversing a ‘chemical imbalance’ then why do they create all these new problems? (ie: obesity, memory problems, slow cognition, tarditive dyskenesia, type II diabetes etc…) Shouldn’t the person be completely cured and healthy if that were really the case? A more realistic way of looking at these drugs is that they produce a altered state, which is beneficial for some but will likely have many other unintended consequences.

    • You sound like Joanna Moncrief. You should read some of her stuff – she says pretty much the same thing. We’re altering states chemically. Some people like the altered state, some don’t, but in either case, we’re not curing or even “treating” any disease state. We’re just messing with brain chemistry and hoping it turns out OK.

      —- Steve

    • These drugs are actually the worst we have now. `Nothing’ would be better for most people. See the UN survey of Nigeria, India and Colombia where the full recovery rate was about 60% where there were NO DRUGS, 16% where there were! Open Dialogue in North Finland uses few drugs = 80% recovery and demographically, NO schizophrenia, (diagnosis is established after 6 months of symptoms), wards closed because there are no patients. Harrow’s and Wunderink’s studies – those who stopped the drugs do far better. Plus an unknown number of recovered and/or living normal lives, ex `schizophrenics’ who are out of the system and who will never let on they ever had a psychosis in the past, all testaments to the fact that less or nothing is better than the drugs, long term.
      I don’t deny that acute situations where extreme anxiety/terror is a factor the tranquilising effects of these drugs can help in the very short term, but, even then, the benzos are better. We actually called them tranquillizers before the PR push of the 1980s re-named them anti psychotics. They’re not anti anything except agitation which they also produce.

  3. Indeed Steve – a friend of mine was at a psychiatric conference recently and one of the speakers said, `We have no idea what these drugs do so we just flood the brain with them and hope for the best.’ !!! So much for the `evidence based’, scientific understanding of psychiatric `disorders’. You could say that the greatest `disorder’ is in the psychiatric approach itself.
    This study only looks at Haloperidol and Closapine. They appear to believe that Closapine is representative of all the atypicals when it is completely different from them. Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t Hapoperidol and Closapine the two different ones? The main two are the phenothiazines, Chlorpromazine etc, and the atypicals that include Olanzapine, Quetiapine and Risperodone. Closapine is used BECAUSE it doesn’t have the Parkinsonian side effects (it has plenty of others), and the others all do, (though less than the phenothiazines), especially Risperodone. Both Hapoperidol and Closapine are used sparingly BECAUSE they are so toxic.
    Does anyone know if these people are psychiatrists or neurologists/neuroscientists? If they’re psychiatrists the study’s suggestion that OTHER drugs may be better is understandable, if they’re not they are surely naive. Either way the study is very limited in its potential application, and probably irrelevant except for the lovely group pleasuring such research engenders in the researchers.

    • Maybe when such statements (i.e. flooding the brain) are made in what the speakers consider the safe confines of a professional conference, if we have allies participating they could record them, or take down the person’s name plus as direct quotes as possible. We can collect them for future use in our public outreach. (Such a recording helped defeat Romney, remember?)

  4. Thank God for this! I have fought with relatives, friends, and professionals about this during times when I was under extreme duress. This with a neurologist report that was sent to the psych doc that also confirmed this. For me, any antipsychotic created this issues along with other awful side effects. I still can’t believe I feel down the rabbit hole for so often and for so long. Ongoing trauma with virtually no breaks makes one also at a nonending first stage of trauma and never able to achieve full and lasting recovery because the stress and triggers never , ever end. No safe refuge for me though I have tried and always come up short.
    I have finally stopped recieving verbal stance on my no meds no way policy. It has been hard fought and at times awful. Some folks supposedly in the know have no idea! This is in the same stream as Lamictal not causing any vision side effects. Try living with both!!!!! I was forced too!
    Thanks for this. It made not only my day but my life!
    I still have moments and am working on all nonmedicine ways to solve the stress issue. Time consuming, expensive and in my area No one understands the full complex picture of trauma. I have a very good sense but seem alone in this understanding about the ways of the system. It would be so nice to have a support system.

  5. Steve,
    “we’re not curing or even “treating” any disease state. We’re just messing with brain chemistry and hoping it turns out OK.” You are almost there my friend. Unfortunately, our researchers are trying to cure A CURE STATE.

  6. Pretty sure I read about them knowing this decades and decades ago. Was in Elliot Valensteins Book Blaming the Brain as well as Whitaker’s Mad in America. Yes, let’s just keep blowing money of running the same sort of research studies over and over and over to come up with the same results because after-all, some people demand six-figures in paychecks.