Vraylar vs Latuda: What You Need to Know
Category: Prescription Related Questions
Posted on October 3, 2023
Scott is passionate about health and wellness, and enjoys writing on various topic surrounding these fields. Scott lives in Seattle and spends his free time restoring old furniture and playing pickleball with his friends.
1.6% of US adults take antipsychotics. Meanwhile, a growing number of teens and children are receiving antipsychotic prescriptions these days.
These drugs treat a range of mental health conditions, including bipolar I disorder, schizophrenia, and major depression. However, they often come with severe side effects that can greatly reduce quality of life.
Atypical antipsychotics are a newer breed of mental health treatments. Also known as second-generation antipsychotics, these drugs feature fewer severe side effects than traditional options.
Two such second-gen antipsychotics are Vraylar and Latuda. What's the difference between Vraylar vs. Latuda? Read on to find out.
What Is Vraylar?
Vraylar is an atypical antipsychotic medication for bipolar I disorder symptoms (e.g., mania and depression) and schizophrenia. When taken with an antidepressant, Vraylar can also treat major depressive disorder (MDD).
The active ingredient in brand-name Vraylar is cariprazine. Experts are not exactly sure how cariprazine works. However, they believe it may balance levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin (5-HT).
How Vraylar Works
Dopamine and serotonin are connected to symptoms of bipolar disorder, MDD, and schizophrenia. This can help explain how the medication works.
When dopamine and 5-HT levels are high, such as during a manic or psychotic episode, cariprazine reduces activity at their receptors. Less activity equals a drop in dopamine and 5-HT and a reduction in symptoms.
Dopamine and 5-HT levels decline during bipolar and MDD depressive episodes. When that happens, cariprazine increases activity at their receptors. This results in a surge of dopamine and 5-HT and a subsequent mood boost.
What Is Latuda?
Latuda is an atypical antipsychotic medication prescribed for symptoms of bipolar I disorder and schizophrenia. Unlike Vraylar, Latuda is not prescribed to treat major depressive disorder.
The active ingredient in brand-name Latuda is lurasidone, which is also available in generic form. Like cariprazine, lurasidone alleviates bipolar and schizophrenia symptoms by interacting with neurotransmitters.
How Latuda Works
Like Vraylar, Latuda has two mechanisms of action that depend on whether neurotransmitter levels are high or low. But unlike Vraylar, this drug targets a third neurotransmitter in addition to dopamine and 5-HT: noradrenaline.
The primary function of Latuda is to block dopamine, 5-HT, and noradrenaline receptors. When these receptors are blocked, corresponding neurotransmitter levels decline, leading to a reduction in psychotic symptoms.
Lurasidone has a secondary effect on serotonin receptors. Namely, it can activate them when 5-HT levels are too low. Activation results in a boost of 5-HT, helping with the depressive symptoms people with bipolar I experience.
Vraylar vs. Latuda: Key Differences and Similarities
We have already mentioned that Vraylar and Latuda treat similar conditions and impact similar neurotransmitters. We've also discussed some of their differences. For example, Vraylar also treats MDD, while Latuda does not.
Below, we outline more important similarities and distinctions between these two atypical antipsychotics.
Vraylar and Latuda Have Side Effects
Like all drugs, Vraylar and Latuda come with side effects. Vraylar features the same side effects for all users, including:
- Uncontrolled muscle movements
- Stomach Pain
Latuda also features side effects. However, they differ based on the reason someone takes the medication. For example, people with schizophrenia may experience the following symptoms after taking Latuda:
- Difficulty moving
- Muscle stiffness
- Runny nose
- Vomiting (especially in children)
Adults and children with bipolar depression also experience differing side effects. Children typically experience nausea, weight gain, and insomnia. Side effects for adults with bipolar depression taking Latuda include:
- Difficulty moving
- Muscle stiffness
In addition to these common side effects, Latuda and Vraylar have the potential for more serious complications. Suicidal ideation, high blood sugar, high cholesterol, and weight gain are shared risks for these drugs.
Learn more about the black box warnings antipsychotics carry in the linked article.
Vraylar Is for Adults Only
The FDA has approved Latuda for adults, teens, and children aged 10 or older for the treatment of bipolar I disorder. It is also approved for adults and teens aged 13 or older for the treatment of schizophrenia.
However, Vraylar is only FDA-approved for adults over the age of 18.
Vraylar and Latuda Are Safe and Effective
Despite their side effects and potential complications, Vraylar and Latuda are extremely safe. The FDA would not have approved them, and doctors would not prescribe them otherwise.
Countless studies have also shown that these drugs are effective for the conditions they treat. The American Psychiatric Association has also given its stamp of approval to these drugs to treat schizophrenia.
However, it is crucial to always use medications according to your doctor's prescription. Using too much of your medication or too often could increase the risk of dependence, withdrawal symptoms, or both.
Latuda Does Not Treat Mania or MDD
Vraylar treats a wider range of conditions and symptoms than Latuda. Doctors only prescribe the latter for bipolar I depression and schizophrenia. Latuda will not treat the symptoms of bipolar I mania or major depressive disorder.
Vraylar and Latuda Need Time to Take Effect
Some drugs work instantly; others need time to exert their effects. Vraylar and Latuda fall into the latter category. It can take several weeks for people to see the full effect of these medications.
Vraylar Can Be More Expensive
You may recall that we mentioned Latuda has a generic form while Vraylar does not. Generics significantly reduce the cost of prescription medications. Many people choose generic lurasidone to take advantage of the savings.
However, some people do not have a choice between the two since Vraylar treats conditions Latuda does not. In that case, the best strategy is to order your prescription online from an affordable pharmacy like PricePro.
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Vraylar and Latuda are two atypical antipsychotics used to treat similar conditions. When it comes to Vraylar vs. Latuda, Vraylar treats a wider array of symptoms, including bipolar I mania and depression, MDD, and schizophrenia.
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