Haloperidol Pharmacology

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Haloperidol is an antipsychotic drug that has similar actions to the antipsychotic medicine phenothiazine.

The drug works as an inverse agonist of dopamine, a chemical in the brain involved in thinking, feeling and behavior. Haloperidol is classified as a highly potent neuroleptic, meaning it relieves nervous tension through the depression of nerve function.

Haloperidol is around fifty times stronger than chlorpromazine, the first antipsychotic drug that was developed in 1950.

Properties and activities

Haloperidol has shown beneficial effects in the treatment of delusions and hallucinations. These effects are mainly achieved through blockage of dopamine receptors in the mesocortex and limbic system.

Haloperidol prevents the effects of dopamine in the nigrostriatal pathways, which probably explains the associated side effects such as akathisia and dystonias. However, the agent only has mild antihistaminic and anticholinergic properties, meaning side effects such as hypotension, constipation and dry mouth occur less frequently than when neuroleptics such as chlorpromazine are used.

The specific actions of haloperidol in the limbic system also reduce psychomotor agitation, therefore providing a sedative effect. On the other hand, the drug’s potent antagonism of dopamine receptors may also worsen this agitation. In particular, blockage of the D2 receptor can lead to anxiety, agitation, akathisia and restlessness.

Haloperidol also acts as a potent antiemetic, owing to its peripheral antidopaminergic effects on the chemoreceptor trigger zone (CTZ) in the brain. The drug can therefore be used to relieve nausea and sickness that occur as side effects of chemotherapy.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 26, 2019

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2019, February 26). Haloperidol Pharmacology. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 20, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Haloperidol-Pharmacology.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Haloperidol Pharmacology". News-Medical. 20 May 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/Haloperidol-Pharmacology.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Haloperidol Pharmacology". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Haloperidol-Pharmacology.aspx. (accessed May 20, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2019. Haloperidol Pharmacology. News-Medical, viewed 20 May 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Haloperidol-Pharmacology.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.