Treating Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia treatments involve medications and therapy to reduce the risk of future psychotic episodes and to improve personal relationships.

The goal of the treatment is to lower the intensity of the symptoms and even make them disappear, reduce the risk of relapse and develop a care plan adapted to satisfy the psychological, personal, professional and medical objectives. 

The main way to treat schizophrenia is through medicine. The treatments used are particularly effective for positive symptoms, whereas they don’t work that well with the negative ones. These drugs are not going to cure schizophrenia, and sometimes they might have some undesirable side effects, but they can allow a patient to live a more normal life. 

The most commonly prescribed drugs are the antipsychotics, which are thought to control the symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. On the other hand, the conventional antipsychotics or typical ones can have significant neurological side effects that may or may not be reversible. Some of these drugs are Chlorpromazine, Fluphenazine, Haloperidol and Perphenazine. 

There are many antipsychotics that work really well, but their efficiency always depends on the patient. That is why it is really important for patients to let their doctor know how they are feeling with the treatment, if there are any side effects or if it’s really working. 

Nowadays, there is a newer second-generation medication called atypical antipsychotics. These are preferred because they pose a lower risk of serious side effects than conventional medications. Some of them are: Aripiprazole, Clozapine, Olanzapine, etc. 

Other medications can also help, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. But that is always up to the psychiatrist and the patient on their effort to find the best combination. 

In addition to medical treatment, different types of psychotherapy, social skills training or family therapy can be offered. 

This medical care is supplemental when the goal of social reinsertion (school or professional life) is attained, this will allow the patient to maintain a level of socialization that will create a balance. 

Monitoring schizophrenia in addition to the treatment

The monitoring of the patient has to be on a regular basis. The frequency of the visit to the psychiatrist depends on how the problems evolve, the treatment and the patient’s personal progress.

The purpose of follow-up is not only to assess the psychiatric state of the person that has schizophrenia, but also to verify the tolerance of the antipsychotics, particularly concerning the undesirable side effects. For this reason, blood tests can be done regularly in order to monitor and eventually treat the anomalies that may appear. 

During crisis periods or times of severe symptoms, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and basic hygiene. 

Last updated: 7/29/19

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