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Behavior regulators

Generic name Brand name
___ chlorpromazine Thorazine®
___ clozapine Clozaril®
___ haloperidol Haldol®
___ thioridazine Mellaril®







What are behavior regulators?

Behavior regulators are used to treat many health conditions linked to one's mental state. They can benefit people who have schizophrenia (a very altered sense of reality), mania (extreme, rapid mood changes), or severe depression (sadness). These medicines are also called neuroleptics, tranquilizers, psychotropics, or antipsychotics.

They may also be used for other conditions.

How should I give it?

Your child should take this medicine exactly as prescribed, even if feeling fine.

Give it at regular times to keep a steady level in the bloodstream. If using this medicine once a day, it may be given at bedtime to help avoid tiredness during the day.

To help avoid some of the side effects (see below), the dose may need to be increased slowly.

Most of these medicines come in tablet form. Some are also available in liquid form.

___ For children who cannot swallow pills:

  1. If it is a tablet, crush it between 2 spoons, inside a plastic bag, or in folded paper.
    • If it is a capsule, open it.
  2. Mix the powder with a very small amount (about 1 teaspoon) of soft food, such as applesauce, chocolate syrup, ice cream, jelly, or yogurt. Make sure your child takes all of the mixture.

___ If using a liquid medicine, shake well right before using. Draw up the correct amount in the medicine dropper or oral syringe. Give a small squirt of the medicine inside the child's cheek. To avoid choking, let your child swallow each squirt before giving more.

Are there any precautions about food or other medicines?

Give this medicine with food to help avoid an upset stomach.

Warning: Certain other medicines interact with behavior regulators. Check with the doctor, nurse practitioner, or pharmacist before giving any other prescription or non-prescription medicines, vitamins, or herbs.

Avoid alcohol-containing foods, beverages, or non-prescription medicines (such as cough syrup) while taking this medicine.

What should I do if a dose is missed?

If a dose is missed, give it as soon as you remember, unless it is less than 8 hours until the next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and continue with the regular schedule. Never give a double dose.

If your child vomits (throws up) a dose, do not repeat the dose. Call the clinic if you have questions about what to do.

What are the side effects?


  • drowsiness
  • lightheadedness, dizziness
  • tiredness or weakness
  • nausea (upset stomach)
  • swelling or pain in breasts
  • dry mouth
  • trouble sleeping


  • sun sensitivity
  • headache
  • change in sense of taste
  • weight gain
  • constipation
  • low blood pressure when lying down
  • fast heartbeat


  • jerky movements of hands and feet
  • tremors
  • low muscle tone

The person taking this medicine should not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until his or her reaction to this medicine is known. These medicines may impair physical coordination at first until the body adjusts.

If your child has other side effects that you think may be due to this medicine, call your clinic or pharmacist.

When should I call the clinic?

  • severe fidgeting or shakiness
  • very fast heartbeat, pounding or irregular rhythm
  • chest pain
  • seizures (convulsions: severe jerking, twitching, or stiffening of muscles)
  • fainting (passing out)
  • shortness of breath, or trouble speaking or swallowing
  • signs of allergic reaction:
    - fever or chills
    - rash or hives
    - wheezing
    - trouble breathing - call 911

What else do I need to know?

This medicine can take up to 4 weeks to reach its maximum effect, and for your child to have its full benefits.

Check with your doctor before stopping this medicine. The dose is usually lowered little by little over time.

You may be asked to bring your child to the clinic to have vital signs (pulse, blood pressure) checked, and to have blood tests. The dose may be adjusted based on your child's behavior and on the results of the blood tests.

To prevent sunburn use sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing when outdoors.

You and your child should know the names of all the medicines he or she is taking. Share this information with anyone involved in your child's care. Please bring the medicine container when your child comes to the clinic or emergency department.

Always make sure you have enough medicine on hand. Each time you refill the prescription, check to see how many refills are left. If no refills are left, the pharmacy will need 2 or 3 days to contact the clinic to renew the prescription.

Before giving the first dose, read the label. Be sure it is what was prescribed. After a refill, if the medicine looks different to you, ask your pharmacist about it before giving it.

Check the label for the expiration date. Flush outdated medicines down the toilet instead of putting them in the garbage.

Store all medicines in their original container and away from direct sunlight or heat. Do not store in humid places such as the bathroom. Keep them out of children's reach, locked up if possible.

If too much or the wrong kind of medicine is taken, call the Poison Control Center toll-free at 1-800-222-1222. If your child is unconscious or has a seizure, call 911.


This is not specific to your child but provides general information. If you have any questions, please call the clinic or pharmacy.

Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota
Last reviewed 8/2015

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This page is not specific to your child, but provides general information on the topic above. If you have any questions, please call your clinic. For more reading material about this and other health topics, please call or visit Children's Minnesota Family Resource Center library, or visit

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