Zyprexa medication is an atypical anti-psychotic also known by the generic name olanzapine.
According to NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health), Zyprexa is most helpful for folks with severe or psychotic depression, often accompanied by a break with reality, hallucinations, or delusions.1
Zyprexa is manufactured by US pharma giant Eli Lilly.
I know it is in vogue to be cynical and hostile about the big drug companies, but Eli Lilly has a remarkable history and reflects many of America’s great national qualities.
It was founded in 1876 by Civil War veteran Colonel Eli Lilly.
The Colonel’s war experiences left him frustrated by the lack of effective medicines and inspired him to pursue some incredible goals:
1. To only manufacture true pharmaceutical products of the highest possible quality.
2. To only manufacture medicines that would be dispensed by proper doctors instead of slickly marketed by the patent medicine hustlers so common back in his day.
3. To only manufacture pharmaceuticals based on the latest and best science available.
I don’t know how the Colonel would feel about Zyprexa. It is fantastic in terms of rapid and thorough results, but comes with many serious side effects.
The FDA has approved the use of Zyprexa for treating bipolar disorder under certain circumstances:
1. Bipolar I manic or mixed episodes
2. As above but in conjunction with traditional mood stabilizers such as lithium and Depakote
3. Bipolar I maintenance treatment (i.e. may be long term)
4. Bipolar I depression when used in combination with Prozac (i.e. the medicine Symbyax).
These FDA approvals for Zyprexa medication are a BIG DEAL!
Why? Remember, there are ONLY 3 bipolar medications that are PROVEN MOOD STABILIZERS (i.e. can be used for on-going maintenance):
2. Lamictal (lamotrigine)
3. Zyprexa (olanzapine).
Lamictal is very good for depression but it not as effective as an anti-manic – something that Zyprexa medication EXCELS at!
Zyprexa has been found to be an extremely effective and fast acting mood stabilizer. It calms anxiety, agitation, and dysphoria within 20 to 30 minutes. It has a calming effect and can stop the racing thoughts that Bipolar II types have. It can also quickly stop the delusions and paranoia that come with Bipolar type I.2
Zyprexa medication dosage for treating bipolar disorder varies. At first, the Mayo Clinic suggest 5 to 15 milligrams (mg) once a day.
Although it is up to your doctor (ideally a psychiatrist), who may fine tune your dosage as needed, the maximum dose is usually not more than 20 milligrams (mg) per day.
One of my readers sent me this comment:
“Personally, Zyprexa has been one of my favorite medications to take. The 10 mg tablet always helped me have a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed with no groggy feeling; however, the 15 mg did leave me a little groggy feeling in the morning. Unfortunately, I gained 23 pounds in one month and had to get off it. The biggest flaw Zyprexa has is its tendency to cause weight gain.”
Zyprexa weight gain and diabetes
The side effects of Zyprexa are so serious that many patients have discontinued use and many have actually filed lawsuits.
Why is Zyprexa potentially so dangerous?
We have already noted that Zyprexa medication is very effective, but that many people cannot use Zyprexa and enjoy these benefits because of the danger from side effects.
Dr Peter Phelps say Zyprexa medication is a good choice in these circumstances:
“1. Emergency-level symptoms 2. Need help really fast 3. Can use on “as-needed” basis AND 4. Not afraid of weight gain.”
Zyprexa is notorious for causing VERY substantial weight gain and associated deadly diseases such as diabetes.
This is not a black and white issue. Obesity and diabetes are EXTREMELY prevalent and over-represented amongst the bipolar community anyway, and even medication weight gain can be controlled with diet and exercise.
Zyprexa box warning
The downside to Zyprexa as a bipolar medication is side effects.
It has just about the worse side effect profile of ANY of the bipolar medications.
In particular, Zyprexa medication carries this serious box warning:
Increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis: Medicines like ZYPREXA can raise the risk of death in elderly people who have lost touch with reality (psychosis) due to confusion and memory loss (dementia). ZYPREXA is not approved for treating psychosis in the elderly with dementia.3