"Awakenings" - A transient phenomenon with risperidone

G. Sinoff, S. I. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of risperidone in the demented elderly has increased dramatically because of its high potency and low side effect profile. A demented patient with severe paranoia was treated with risperidone after failure with several typical neuroleptics. With risperidone, there was a dramatic, but transient, reaction-an "awakenings" phenomenon. Yet with another atypical, olanzapine, the dramatic effect was more permanent. This "awakenings" effect with risperidone has not been reported previously. Typical neuroleptics act via the dopaminergic system but have severe side effects. The atypical neuroleptics, with a greater affinity for the serotonergic and adrenergic systems, have lower side effect profiles and accordingly are recommended for use in the elderly. However, increasing the dose of risperidone causes a safety profile similar to a typical neuroleptic, because of its high affinity for D2 dopaminergic receptors. In contrast, olanzapine has a low affinity for D2 receptors. We propose that this may explain why there was this "awakenings" phenomenon for risperidone and not for olanzapine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Atypical neuroleptics
  • Dementia
  • Elderly
  • Risperidone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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