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Antipsychotics Blood Test

Last updated May 10, 2019

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The Antipsychotics Blood Test helps determine the level of antipsychotics in blood. It is used when adjusting the initial dose, and to ensure that antipsychotic levels stay within an acceptable range.

What are other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Antipsychotic Medications Blood Test

What is the Antipsychotics Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • Antipsychotic medications are used to treat psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychoses. The commonly prescribed antipsychotics include lithium, clozapine, and haloperidol
  • Schizophrenia is a complex mental disorder characterized by hallucinations, social withdrawal, and extreme agitation. The cause of schizophrenia is unknown
  • Bipolar disorder is characterized by bouts of either extreme depression or mania lasting anywhere from days to years. Causes remain largely unknown, though genetic associations have been identified
  • The mechanisms by which antipsychotic medications work are largely unknown. One possibility is that they alter the import and export of sodium by neurons, such that breakdown of stress hormones increases
  • The levels of antipsychotic medication must be kept within a certain range to prevent unwanted effects. If levels are too high, toxicity may result; if levels are too low, the drug may not successfully treat psychiatric conditions
  • The Antipsychotics Blood Test helps determine the level of antipsychotics in blood. It is used when adjusting the initial dose, and to ensure that antipsychotic levels stay within an acceptable range

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Antipsychotics Blood Test?

The clinical indications for performing the Antipsychotics Blood Test include monitoring antipsychotic therapy.

How is the Specimen Collected for the Antipsychotics Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for Antipsychotics Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the Antipsychotics Blood Test Result?

Following is the specimen collection process for Antipsychotics Blood Test:

  • A high value for the Antipsychotics Blood Test may indicate antipsychotic toxicity. This is marked by:
    • Vomiting
    • Elevated blood pressure
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Seizures
    • Stupor
    • Nausea
    • Anxiety 
  • A low value for the Antipsychotics Blood Test may indicate that more antipsychotic medication is needed to achieve a therapeutic dose

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Schizophrenia is strongly associated with suicidal thoughts and tendencies. It affects roughly 3 million people in the US, or 1% of the population. Individuals exhibiting these tendencies should contact a healthcare professional right away
  • Clozapine is mainly used when more classical schizophrenia and bipolar disorder medications, such as haloperidol, cannot be used
  • Lithium is known to interfere with thyroid gland and kidney functioning. Individuals undergoing lithium therapy may be monitored for thyroid health via the TSH blood test, and for kidney health via the blood urea nitrogen and creatinine blood tests

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

The following DoveMed website links are some useful resources for additional information:





Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 31, 2015
Last updated: May 10, 2019