Schizophrenia is a chronic disease that requires long-term treatment, even when you aren’t exhibiting symptoms. Some medication treats active symptoms while others help to prevent future occurrences. It is very important to adhere to the medication you have been prescribed and to ensure you monitor any (new) symptoms.
For optimum treatment, a team is needed to address the various aspects of the disorder. This team is usually comprised of a doctor (experienced in mental health), social worker, psychologist, a nurse and sometimes an occupational therapist.
Treatment for schizophrenia works best when there is cooperation between the treatment team and the person receiving the treatment. Understanding what treatment options are available and how they work is very important in managing chronic mental illness. Treatment is typically in the form of medication and psychosocial therapy.
Medication is an important form of treatment for schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medication is the type of medication that is usually prescribed. These drugs control symptoms by normalizing the affected chemicals in the brain.
The aim is to effectively treat symptoms with the lowest possible dose.
Antipsychotics are known to have some serious side effects that can make you reluctant to continue treatment. It is very important that all side effects are reported immediately to your doctor.
Once an individual is stable and has no psychotic symptoms such as losing touch of reality and hearing voices, an addition of psychosocial intervention in conjunction with the medication is important. The following are psychosocial intervention options:
- Psychoeducation - Learning about schizophrenia (psychoeducation) can help you and your loved ones understand the condition.
- Family therapy - This provides support and education to families dealing with schizophrenia.
- Occupational therapy - This focuses on helping people with schizophrenia prepare themselves to integrate into society.
Most individuals with schizophrenia require some form of daily living support. With appropriate treatment, schizophrenia can be controlled, and your quality of life can be maintained.
Written by Dr Ruusa Shivute | Health Window
Reference: Carpenter WT Jr, Buchanan RW. Schizophrenia. N Engl J Med. 1994 Mar 10;330(10):681-90