Zyprexa for Major Depression: How Does it Work and Why Will it Benefit You?

Zyprexa for Major Depression: How Does it Work and Why Will it Benefit You?
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If you are suffering from certain mental disorders, like schizophrenia, your doctor may prescribe Zyprexa for major depression. The generic name is Olanzapine; it is an atypical antipsychotic class drug manufactured by Eli Lilly.

Olanzapine is commonly prescribed for treatment and maintenance in cases of schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) It may be used in combination with other drugs, like fluoxetine for treatment of bipolar affective disorder. While it has demonstrated efficacy in clinical trials by Lilly 1 in controlling the symptoms of these disorders by changing chemicals in the brain, it cannot cure them; it only reduces the symptoms.

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How does Olanzapine Work?

Olanzapine is an atypical, or second-generation, antipsychotic drug. These drugs work by altering the neurons in the brain, and either mimic a neurotransmitter or block receptors from receiving data from the neurotransmitter.

Olanzapine works by binding the dopamine and serotonin receptors from receiving input. Specifically, it blocks the D1, D2, 5-HT2A, and 5-HT2C receptors, and mimics the 5-HT1A receptors. It also counters the effects of the overactive and underactive dopamine system that is present in cases of schizophrenia. Clinical trial results demonstrate its efficacy as an effective treatment for the positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Dosage Recommendations and Drug Description

Olanzapine is usually prescribed for a once a day dosage to be taken with or without food. For best results, individuals should take the drug at approximately the same time each day. Do not to double up on doses, even if one is missed.

Lilly’s dosing information suggests that adults start with a 5 to 10 mg daily dose initially and work up to a target dose of 10 mg daily. Adolescents start with a 2.5 to 5 mg daily dose and work up to a target dose of 10 mg daily.

Olanzapine is available in a non-scored tablet, an orally disintegrating tablet (Zyprexa Zydis), and an intramuscular injection (Zyprexa Relprew; generic name Olanzapine pamoate.) Olanzapine may also be used in combination with fluoxetine to treat depressive episodes and treatment resistant depression.

What are the Benefits to Me?

Olanzapine offers patients the following benefits:

  • Individuals experience fewer unpleasant side effects
  • It may offer an advantage over other drugs for reducing motor function side effects
  • Symptoms of schizophrenia like agitation or hallucinations are reduced
  • Individuals are stabilized and can socialize, work, or pursue an education

Taking any drug may put individuals at risk for adverse reactions and unforeseen side effects; however, in many cases the benefits to the patient far outweigh the potential of any such issues. Patients should follow their health care or mental health care providers recommendations regarding the use of medications like Zyprexa for major depression to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.


1 - Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, Indiana, 46285, “Highlights of Prescribing Information,” accessed 09/09/2010

U.S. National Library of Medicine

NIH, PubMed Health, “Olanzapine,” 08/01/2010, accessed 09/09/2010

Drug Watch, “Zyprexa,” accessed 09/10/2010

Northern Michigan University, Department of Psychology, “Schizoprenia,” accessed 00/13/2010