Dr Jozelle Miller
July 4, 2017
Understanding schizophrenia – Part 2

How is schizophrenia treated?

If you suspect someone you know is experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, encourage them to see a medical or mental health professional immediately; early treatment – even as early as the first episode – can mean a better long-term outcome.

Recovery and rehabilitation

While no cure for schizophrenia exists, many people with this illness can lead productive and fulfilling lives with the proper treatment. Recovery is possible through a variety of services, including medication and rehabilitation programmes. Rehabilitation can help a person recover the confidence and skills needed to live a productive and independent life in the community. Types of services that help a person with schizophrenia include:

Case management helps people access services, financial assistance, treatment and other resources.

Psychosocial rehabilitation programmes are programmes that help people regain skills such as: employment, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, shopping, socializing, problem solving, and stress management.

Self-help groups provide on-going support and information to persons with serious mental illness by individuals who experience mental illness themselves.

Therapy/counselling includes different forms of “talk”therapy, both individual and group, that can help both the patient and family members to better understand the illness and share their concerns.

Antipsychotic medication

Medications are often used to help control the symptoms of schizophrenia. They help to reduce the biochemical imbalances that cause schizophrenia and decrease the likelihood of relapse. Like all medications, however, anti-psychotic medications should be taken only under the supervision of a mental health professional. Atypical (or “New Generation”) antipsychotics are less likely to cause some of the severe side effects associated with typical antipsychotics.

There are two major types of antipsychotic medication:

Typical (“conventional”) antipsychotics effectively control the “positive” symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and confusion of schizophrenia.

Atypical (“New Generation”) antipsychotics treat both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, often with fewer side effects.

Side effects are common with antipsychotic drugs. They range from mild side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation, drowsiness and dizziness, which usually disappear after a few weeks, to more serious side effects such as trouble with muscle control, pacing, tremors and facial tics. The newer generation of drugs has fewer side effects. However, it is important to talk with your mental health professional before making any changes in medication, since many side effects can be controlled.

Source: Mental Health America

Dr Miller is Health Psychologist at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital