The most effective medications for schizophrenia to date are antipsychotic medications, which can change the brain's chemical balance and help control most symptoms of schizophrenia.
Although these medications are very useful, they can cause unwanted side effects. Most of the side effects can be treated or the patient may be switched to an alternative medication.
Possible side effects of antipsychotics include:
If the schizophrenic symptoms don't seem to be improving with the first antipsychotic medications, a medication called clozapine might be tried. This medication is the most effective in reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia. However, it has potentially more serious side effects compared to the other antipsychotics. Taking some older antipsychotic medications in the long term might increase the patient's risk for tardive dyskinesia, - a movement disorder that causes uncontrollable and repeated movements, usually of the mouth.
Schizophrenia usually lasts for a lifetime, so the majority of people who suffer from it will have to stay on their medication for as long as they live.
Many peolpe with schizophrenia also find supportive therapy helpful. Behavioral treatments like training in social skills, relationship building and job training can help them improve their work and social functioning.
The families of people with schizophrenia need to learn more about this disease in order to provide the best support that they can. Care givers and family members are usually encouraged to help schizophrenics stay on their medication. Alternately, if the patient does not have social or family support, then he or she may need community support and outreach services instead.
It is important for people with schizophrenia to learn the following skills:
It is hard to predict the overall outlook for a person with schizophrenia. Usually, symptoms will get better with medication. However, some people might still have continued symptoms or they might experience repeated episodes of more severe symptoms. Symptoms may return once medication is stopped.
People who have severe schizophrenia might need structured places or group homes to live in for the long term. During schizophrenic episodes, a person may need to be hospitalized if they are considered to be a danger to themselves or others.
Schizophrenia increases a person’s risk for:
This simple questionnaire is designed to help you determine if you have symptoms of disorder and could benefit from professional help.