Perphenazine: MedlinePlus Drug Information (2023)

pronounced as (per fen' a zeen)

  • Why is this medication prescribed?
  • How should this medicine be used?
  • Other uses for this medicine
  • What special precautions should I follow?
  • What special dietary instructions should I follow?
  • What should I do if I forget a dose?
  • What side effects can this medication cause?
  • What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
  • In case of emergency/overdose
  • What other information should I know?
  • Brand names
  • Brand names of combination products


Studies have shown that older adults with dementia (a brain disorder that affects the ability to remember, think clearly, communicate, and perform daily activities and that may cause changes in mood and personality) who take antipsychotics (medications for mental illness) such as perphenazine have an increased chance of death during treatment.

Perphenazine is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of behavior problems in older adults with dementia. Talk to the doctor who prescribed this medication if you, a family member, or someone you care for has dementia and is taking perphenazine. For more information, visit the FDA website:

Why is this medication prescribed?

Perphenazine is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia (a mental illness that causes disturbed or unusual thinking, loss of interest in life, and strong or inappropriate emotions). Perphenazine is also used to control severe nausea and vomiting in adults. Perphenazine is in a class of medications called conventional antipsychotics. It works by decreasing abnormal excitement in the brain.

How should this medicine be used?

Perphenazine comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken two to four times a day. Take perphenazine at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take perphenazine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Your doctor may start you on an average dose of perphenazine and decrease your dose once your symptoms are controlled. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with perphenazine.

Perphenazine may help to control your symptoms but will not cure your condition. Continue to take perphenazine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking perphenazine without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking perphenazine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, and shakiness. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually and may prescribe other medication(s) for you to take for several weeks after you stop taking perphenazine.

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Other uses for this medicine

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking perphenazine,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to perphenazine; other phenothiazines such as chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, prochlorperazine (Compazine), promethazine (Phenergan), thioridazine, or trifluoperazine;or any other medications.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone); antidepressants; antihistamines; atropine (in Motofen, in Lomotil, in Lonox); barbiturates such as pentobarbital (Nembutal), phenobarbital (Luminal), and secobarbital (Seconal); bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin, Zyban); chlorpheniramine (in cough and cold medications); cimetidine (Tagamet); clomipramine (Anafranil); duloxetine (Cymbalta); epinephrine (Epipen); haloperidol (Haldol); ipratropium (Atrovent); medications for anxiety or mental illness, irritable bowel disease, motion sickness, Parkinson's disease, seizures, ulcers, or urinary problems; methadone (Dolophine); narcotic medications for pain; quinidine; ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra); sedatives; certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), and sertraline (Zoloft); sleeping pills; and tranquilizers. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had brain damage, any condition that affects your blood cells, including conditions that affect the production of blood cells by your bone marrow, trouble keeping your balance, or liver disease. Your doctor may tell you not to take perphenazine.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had pheochromocytoma (tumor on a small gland near the kidneys); breast cancer; seizures; an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG; test that measures the electrical activity in the brain); depression; conditions that affect your breathing such as asthma, emphysema, or a lung infection; or heart or kidney disease. Also tell your doctor if you are experiencing alcohol withdrawal (symptoms that a person may experience if he/she stops drinking alcohol after drinking heavily for a long time), if you have ever had to stop taking a medication for mental illness due to severe side effects, or if you plan to work with organophosphate insecticides (a type of chemical used to kill insects).
  • if you will be using perphenazine to treat nausea and vomiting, it is important to tell your doctor about any other symptoms you are experiencing, especially listlessness; drowsiness; confusion; aggression; seizures;headaches; problems with vision, hearing, speech, or balance; stomach pain or cramps; or constipation. Nausea and vomiting that is experienced along with these symptoms may be a sign of a more serious condition that should not be treated with perphenazine.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, especially if you are in the last few months of your pregnancy, or if you plan to become pregnant or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking perphenazine, call your doctor. Perphenazine may cause problems in newborns following delivery if it is taken during the last months of pregnancy.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking perphenazine.
  • you should know that this medication may make you drowsy and may affect your thinking and movements. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
  • ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking this medication. Alcohol can make the side effects of perphenazine worse.
  • plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Perphenazine may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
  • you should know that perphenazine may make it more difficult for your body to cool down when it gets very hot. Tell your doctor if you plan to do vigorous exercise or be exposed to extreme heat.
  • you should know that perphenazine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking perphenazine. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
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What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Perphenazine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • dizziness, feeling unsteady, or having trouble keeping your balance
  • blurred vision
  • widening or narrowing of the pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes)
  • pale skin
  • dry mouth
  • excess saliva
  • stuffed nose
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • loss of appetite
  • blank facial expression
  • shuffling walk
  • unusual, slowed, or uncontrollable movements of any part of the body
  • restlessness
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • unusual dreams
  • falsely feeling threatened by others
  • difficult or frequent urination
  • inability to control urination
  • change in skin color
  • breast enlargement
  • breast milk production
  • missed menstrual periods
  • decreased sexual ability in men

Some side effects may be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • fever
  • muscle stiffness
  • falling
  • confusion
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • sweating
  • decreased thirst
  • neck cramps
  • tongue that sticks out of the mouth
  • tightness in the throat
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • fine, worm-like tongue movements
  • uncontrollable, rhythmic face, mouth, or jaw movements
  • seizures
  • eye pain or discoloration
  • vision loss, especially at night
  • seeing everything with a brown tint
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • slowed heartbeat
  • sore throat, fever, chills, and other signs of infection

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online ( or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

Perphenazine may cause other side effects. Tell your doctor if you have any unusual problems while you are taking this medication.

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What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website ( for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • difficulty responding to surroundings
  • coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
  • seizures
  • fast or irregular heartbeat

What other information should I know?

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Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your response to perphenazine.

Perphenazine may interfere with the results of home pregnancy tests. Tell your doctor if you think you might be pregnant during your treatment with perphenazine. Do not try to test for pregnancy at home.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Trilafon®

Brand names of combination products

  • Duo-Vil® (containing Amitriptyline, Perphenazine)
  • Etrafon® (containing Amitriptyline, Perphenazine)
  • Triavil® (containing Amitriptyline, Perphenazine)
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This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.

Last Revised - 02/15/2018

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What are the reviews for perphenazine? ›

Perphenazine has an average rating of 6.8 out of 10 from a total of 33 reviews on 61% of reviewers reported a positive experience, while 23% reported a negative experience.

How long does it take for perphenazine to work? ›

Although you may notice some medication effects soon after starting, it may take as much as 4-6 weeks of regular use to see the full benefit. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Does perphenazine help with anxiety? ›

Perphenazine has a broad range of effectiveness. It appears to be useful in patients with all degrees of anxiety and agitation, from mild tension or hyper- motricity through severe psychosis or psychomotor hyperactivity.

Is perphenazine FDA approved? ›

Perphenazine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of psychotic disor- ders, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and drug-induced psychosis. The use of a medication for its approved indications is called its labeled use.

How does perphenazine make you feel? ›

you should know that perphenazine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking perphenazine. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.

What does perphenazine do to your brain? ›

Perphenazine is an antipsychotic medication. It's not completely clear how the medication works, but it's thought to affect dopamine activity in your brain. This helps with regulating your thoughts and mood, as well as with relieving severe nausea and vomiting.

What are the rare side effects of perphenazine? ›

Other serious but rare side effects may also occur. These include severe muscle stiffness, fever, unusual tiredness or weakness, fast heartbeat, difficult breathing, increased sweating, loss of bladder control, and seizures (neuroleptic malignant syndrome).

What are the side effects of taking perphenazine? ›

Drowsiness, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, lightheadedness, blurred vision, tiredness, or unexplained weight gain may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Dizziness and lightheadedness can increase the risk of falling.

Is perphenazine a sedating? ›

Perphenazine has sedating and anxiolytic properties, making the drug useful for the treatment of agitated psychotic patients.

Is perphenazine addictive? ›

Although Trilafon is not addictive, your body may have become accustomed to having the drug in its system. Always consult your doctor before reducing or stopping this medication. Possible symptoms of withdrawal may include: Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting.

Does perphenazine cause weight gain? ›

Side effects include: Extrapyramidal reactions (e.g., Parkinson-like symptoms, dystonia, akathisia, tardive dyskinesia), drowsiness, muscular weakness, dry mouth, blurred vision, weight gain, skin reactions, amenorrhea, galactorrhea.

Does perphenazine increase dopamine? ›

Perphenazine is a phenothiazine derivative and a dopamine antagonist with antiemetic and antipsychotic properties. Perphenazine blocks postsynaptic dopamine 2(D2) receptors in the mesolimbic and medullary chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ), thereby preventing the excess of dopamine in the brain.

What is the safest antipsychotic medication? ›

Clozapine and olanzapine have the safest therapeutic effect, while the side effect of neutropenia must be controlled by 3 weekly blood controls.

What class of drug is perphenazine? ›

Perphenazine belongs to a class of drugs called Antipsychotics, 1st Generation; Antipsychotics, Phenothiazine.

Can perphenazine cause liver damage? ›

Perphenazine is a phenothiazine and antipsychotic agent, now rarely used in clinical practice. Perphenazine can cause mild and transient serum enzyme elevations and is a rare cause of clinically apparent acute and chronic cholestatic liver injury.

What happens if you take too much perphenazine? ›

High doses or long-term use of perphenazine can cause a serious movement disorder that may not be reversible. The longer you use perphenazine, the more likely you are to develop this disorder, especially if you are a woman or an older adult.

What is the heart rate for perphenazine? ›

Before perphenazine administration, the heart rate is 144 beats/min. E: After the injection of perphenazine 0.1 mg/kg, the heart rate is 132 beats/min.

Does perphenazine cause Parkinson's? ›

It was soon recognized that all typical antipsychotics had the potential to cause EPS, including parkinsonism, acute dystonia, akathisia, and TD. Typical antipsychotics include chlorpromazine, promazine, haloperidol, perphenazine, fluphenazine, and pimozide.

What is the most troublesome side effect of antipsychotic medications? ›

Amongst the many adverse effects of the first generation, or 'typical' antipsychotics, the most disturbing was Tardive Dyskinesia, which involves uncontrollable movements of face, hands and feet [2].

How do you taper off perphenazine? ›

Tapering Guidance
  1. If used daily for a month or so reduce dose by a maximum of 25% every week initially or every month if need be.
  2. If there are indications of a problem while tapering, or if used for longer than a month, consider tapering more gradually and ideally with the help of a liquid.

Is perphenazine still available? ›

The brand name Trilafon has been discontinued in the U.S., but generic alternatives may be available.

What are 3 negative side effects of antipsychotic medication? ›

These effects include:
  • blurred vision.
  • confusion and agitation.
  • constipation, which may become life-threatening if not treated.
  • difficulty urinating.
  • drowsiness.
  • dry mouth, which can cause tooth decay in the long term.
  • erectile dysfunction.
  • hallucinations.

Can perphenazine cause depression? ›

Taking perphenazine/amitriptyline can make your depression worse and cause you to have thoughts of suicide or harming yourself. The risk is highest if you are 24 years of age or younger, during the first few weeks of taking the medication, and when your dose changes.

Is perphenazine high potency? ›

Perphenazine is a high-potency first-generation antipsychotic. Low-potency antipsychotics are often seen by psychiatrists and health professionals as less effective in treating schizophrenia than high-potency antipsychotic drugs; they also differ in side effects.

What is the onset of perphenazine? ›

Finally, perphenazine is a long-acting drug that has an onset of action in 12 to 16 hours and duration of 10 days.

Can you stay on antipsychotics for life? ›

Antipsychotics are often recommended life-long for people diagnosed with schizophrenia or other serious mental illnesses because they are effective at controlling psychotic symptoms in the short term and might reduce the risk of relapse.

How long can you stay on antipsychotics? ›

Some people need to keep taking it long term. If you have only had one psychotic episode and you have recovered well, you would normally need to continue treatment for 1–2 years after recovery. If you have another psychotic episode, you may need to take antipsychotic medication for longer, up to 5 years.

What is the best antipsychotic for weight loss? ›

The strongest evidence for weight loss upon antipsychotic switching was for aripiprazole and ziprasidone.

What happens if you stop taking perphenazine? ›

Although Trilafon is not addictive, your body may have become accustomed to having the drug in its system. Always consult your doctor before reducing or stopping this medication. Possible symptoms of withdrawal may include: Upset stomach, nausea, or vomiting.

What is the best tolerated antipsychotic? ›

Based on SUCRA ranking, olanzapine and quetiapine ranked the best tolerated treatments in terms of all-cause discontinuation followed by cariprazine, lurasidone, ziprasidone and aripiprazole (Table 14).

What is the most commonly prescribed antipsychotic? ›

Haldol (haloperidol) and Thorazine (chlorpromazine) are the best known typical antipsychotics. They continue to be useful in the treatment of severe psychosis and behavioral problems when newer medications are ineffective.

What is the weakest antipsychotic? ›

Of the atypical antipsychotics, risperidone is the weakest in terms of atypicality criteria.

What are the adverse effects of perphenazine? ›

Perphenazine may cause muscle or nervous system problems (extrapyramidal symptoms-EPS). Tell your doctor if you notice side effects of perphenazine including increased anxiety, drooling, trouble swallowing, constant need to move, shaking, shuffling walk, or stiff muscles.

Why are antipsychotics not recommended? ›

In particular, antipsychotic drugs have been linked to an increased risk of falls, diabetes and heart disease. Older adults are also more likely to be prescribed multiple medications, increasing the likelihood of negative drug interactions.

What can I take instead of antipsychotics? ›

What are the alternatives to antipsychotics?
  • Talking therapies.
  • Arts and creative therapies.
  • Ecotherapy.
  • Complementary and alternative therapies.
  • Peer support.
  • Look after your physical health.


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