Schizophrenia is a complex mental illness that impacts a person’s speech, emotions, thinking, and decision making, affecting how a person interacts and socializes with other people. It is quite a rare condition affecting less than 1% of people in the United States. Some common symptoms associated with schizophrenia include hallucinations, delusions, odd and strange movements, and muddled thoughts and speech. These symptoms can range from mild to severe, which can affect vital aspects of a person’s daily life.
People with schizophrenia often lack awareness that they might have a mental disorder and may require medical attention. In most cases, it is upon family members and close people around them to help them get the help they need. According to research, an early diagnosis allows one to begin treatment early, which increases the chances of managing and improving the illness before it advances.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
There is neither a known cause nor a cure for schizophrenia. Therefore, people living with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Treatment options focus on managing a person’s symptoms and incorporate medications and psychological treatment. Your health care provider should be able to assess the symptoms and severity of the condition and come up with a suitable treatment plan.
Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia will need medication in their treatment plan. The most commonly prescribed medications are antipsychotic drugs. They are very effective in easing schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Antipsychotics work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain known as dopamine and serotonin. Antipsychotics come in pills, liquid, or as an injection. Other drugs that can be used are anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications. The doctor might need to try different combinations of drugs to come up with a plan that works best for a patient. However, medications have been proven to work better when used together with psychological treatment.
Psychological treatment for schizophrenia involves psychotherapy (a form of talk therapy) where the patient discusses with a therapist expressing their emotions and feelings. Some common types of psychological treatment used for schizophrenia include cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and cognitive enhancement therapy (CET). When combined with medications, psychological treatment helps one to live with schizophrenia, and have a quality and fulfilling life. Some people may fail to respond to drugs and therapy. In such cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) might be considered.
Since the condition is episodic, a person living with schizophrenia is required to continue taking medications throughout their life even when the symptoms have subsided. During the periods of severe symptoms, hospitalization is recommended to ensure that the patient is safe, closely monitored, and receives appropriate care.