- Mental Health
Schizophrenia treatment options
Before the term “schizophrenia” only gained currency, the condition was mistaken for insanity and possession by evil spirits.
In those dark and medieval ages, the treatments for such conditions were exile and imprisonment.
With an improved understanding of the condition, schizophrenia treatment options became more sophisticated to match.
Schizophrenia is caused by a combination of genetic, brain and environmental factors. It is a long-term mental illness, for which there is no known schizophrenia cure either. However, schizophrenia is treatable and manageable.
Primary schizophrenia treatment involves a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medications are the recommended treatment for brain and genetic causes, while psychotherapy helps to address the environmental factors.
Since schizophrenia is a combination of disorders, it is treated with a variety of medications as follows:
Antipsychotic drugs are designed to treat schizophrenia by addressing the chemical imbalances that lead to it.
These drugs are the primary medication for schizophrenics and are divided into two main groups: traditional (conventional or typical) antipsychotics, and new (second-generation) antipsychotics.
The second-generation drugs treat dopamine and serotonin receptors, making them more effective in treating positive and negative schizophrenia symptoms.
Traditional antipsychotics, like chlorpromazine and haloperidol, have been used since the 1950s. Second-generation drugs, like risperidone and olanzapine, were developed in the 1990s as alternatives to traditional antipsychotics.
Unsurprisingly, there are side effects of typical and atypical antipsychotic drugs. These include muscle spasms, skin rashes, tremors, rigidity and blurred vision. Anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs are used primarily for treatment of minor negative symptoms and catatonic schizophrenia treatment, since antipsychotic drugs worsen symptoms of that type of schizophrenia.
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Psychotherapy does not directly treat schizophrenia, but is used in conjunction with long-term medication. Its goal is to help schizophrenics cope with the illness. Schizophrenia affects the way schizophrenics interact with their family, friends and community.
Psychosocial treatment does what medications cannot do – help the afflicted person cope with having the condition in the short and long term. This treatment includes illness management, rehabilitation, cognitive behavioral therapy and family support.
Paranoid schizophrenia treatment
Paranoid schizophrenia involves delusions – a serious symptom that puts the afflicted person and those around them at risk. Schizophrenia treatment for this condition involves typical and atypical psychotic drugs and antidepressants. In addition to those, paranoid schizophrenia might require the following:
Hospitalization: This is required for periods of crisis and severe symptoms. This ensures that patients get the required care and is a safety precaution as well.
Electroconvulsive therapy: This involves passing electrical currents through the brain to trigger a brain seizure. The goal behind this procedure is to alter the brain chemistry of the patient.
Social and vocational skills training: This is designed to help the individual with a combination of life skills and job skills.
Antipsychotic drugs are heavily relied upon during schizophrenia treatment, which is a lifelong process. The reason for relapses is that many schizophrenic do not follow the program diligently. Researchers are still hoping to find a ‘cure’ for schizophrenia caused by genetic and brain factors, but until such time, continued treatment is recommended.