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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Medications

Schizophrenia Medications

The most important treatment modality when attempting to gain a recovery from schizophrenia is medication.  Although medication plays a large role in treatment, it obtains its effectiveness through it’s partnership with psychotherapy.  However, the differing schizophrenia medication options are oftentimes very confusing for the newly diagnosed and provide a large stumbling block on the path to recovery.  The intention of this article, then, is to provide as much insight into the various medications available at this current time, including their individual purposes, side effects, and attributes.

The Types of Medications for Schizophrenia

When we discuss these medications, it’s easiest to categorize the differing types into subtypes.  This helps us keep the information straight in our head, because there is quite a lot to remember.  There are atypical antipsychotics, typical antipsychotics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and a few other supportive medications we will mention at the end.

Don’t let the labels of typical and atypical fool you.  Typical simply refers to the conventional, or older, antipsychotics, while atypical refers to the newer “2nd-generation” antipsychotics.  Of course there are other reasons for categorizing them separately, as you will see below.

Atypical Antipsychotics

Atypical antispsychotics, while still posing the risk of side effects, generally have what are accepted as less-severe side effects.  These are newer medicines that have been approved since 1989, and most recently in 2007.  They can be taken as a pill, a liquid, or as an injection.  Atypical medications are the type that require patience, because you may need to take them for up to as long as six months before you begin noticing a positive effect from them.  This is common with many psychiatric medicines though, and it’s just the way it is right now.

As far as the United States is concerned, there are seven atypical antipsychotic medications that are approved for prescriptions currently.  Those are the following, with their medical and brand names, respectively:

  • Clozapine / Clozaril
  • Aripiprazole / Abilify
  • Paliperidone / Invega
  • Risperidone / Risperdal
  • Quetiapine / Seroquel
  • Olanzapine / Zyprexa
  • Ziprasidone / Geodon

Clozapine was the first to be approved and appears to the be the one with the most side effects still.  There are a couple more that haven’t been approved in the U.S. that go by the names of Zoleptil and Solian, if you’d like to ask your doctor about them.  Since these are all relatively newer medicines, there have not been significant longitudinal studies doing comparisons of each other concerning benefits and negatives.

In general, the lesser side effects of atypical antipsychotics are the same as you find on many medications for all kinds of ailments.  These include runny or stuffy nose, dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, extra-salivation, increased heart rate, or imparied attention.  There are more severe problems that can be associated with these, which include weight gain, hyperglycemia, cholesterol issues, seizures, body temperature fluctuations, cataracts and glaucoma, heart problems, and more.  These are to be taken very seriously, even if they are occur to a small percentage of people.  Always be prepared and knowledgable of these symptoms so that you might recognize them immediately and seek help sooner rather than later.

A Warning for Diabetics

A very serious warning is on every label concerning patients with diabetes.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggests these individuals remain under constant watch with frequent monitoring and blood sugar testing to ensure no further complications arise, and if they do they can be treated immediately.

Typical Antipsychotics

As mentioned before, typical antipsychotics are the older and more conventional medicines used in the treatment of schizophrenia, but often feature more severe side effects than the atypical variety.  There have been plenty of studies that have failed to find any significant variations in the levels of benefits from one typical antipsychotic over another.  The reason these are so commonly prescribed is their large impact on symptoms resembling psychosis.  These are the delusionary beliefs and sensory hallucinations that are common early in the development of schizophrenia, especially in those experiencing the paranoid subtype.

Among these that are available for use in the United States are the following, again with the medical name and brand names listed, respectively:

  • Haloperidol / Haldol
  • Chlorpromazine / Thorazine
  • Fluphenazine / Prolixin
  • Mesoridazine / Serentil
  • Perphenazine / Trilafon
  • Trifluoperazine / Stelazine
  • Thioridazine / Mellaril

The most commonly prescribed of the above list would be Haldol and Thorazine.  Many people know of Thorazine as it has made it’s way into the popular culture through films.  These are often delivered to patients experiencing a high intensity of positive symptoms to help reduce the severity, but they don’t have much affect on the negative symptoms that may arise.

In previous articles we have discussed how many people dealing with schizophrenia find it very stressful to add difficult side effects on top of the problems they are already experiencing, and will cease taking their medications.  This is common with typical antipsychotics, unfortunately.

Some of these side effects of typical antipsychotics include, but are not limited to,  Extrapyramidal symptoms (which will be discussed further down), lethargy and drowsiness or sleeplessness, stomach upsets such as nausea, consipation, diarrhea, and heartbearn, dry mouth, hypotension, increased possibility for cardiac arrest, and a dulling of focus and thinking.  As you can see from this list, these can all be very disturbing in combination with other symptoms related to schizophrenia, which is why many people have opted for the atypical medications instead.

Extrapyramidal Side Effects

All schizophrenia medications, but the typical antipsychotics especially, can cause what are known as extrapyramidal side effects.  The symptoms affect the nervous and muscular systems of the body, which can in turn create difficulties in coordination and general movement.  If any of you are familiar with Parkinson’s disease, then you will recognize some of these symptoms.

The symptom that can cause the most intereference in life is tardive dyskinesia which causes the individual to display tics, which are involuntary movements similar to those of Tourette’s syndrome.  These can occur in the face or any extremety of the body, or even in the chest or stomach areas.  The problem with tardive dyskinesia and these medications is it is hard to determine whether or not it will arise.  It may not manifest itself into visible symptoms for up to years after beginning to take the medication.  If the medicine is ceased, it can remain for months or possibly be permanent, sadly.  There are other similar symptoms that may appear immediately upon taking the medicine, called acute dystonia, which involves strong contractions of the muscles, especially of the face and neck.

To treat these symptoms, first there is an attempt to tweak the dosage to a more suitable amount for the individual, whether that is more or less must be tested.  They may also be switched to an atypical antipsychotic as well.  They may also be administered an anti-parksonism medicine such as an anticholinergic.  Benzodiazepines can also serve to reduce extrapyramidal side effects.

Other Schizophrenia Medications

There are other medicines that will be prescribed to help curb the severity of symptoms associated with schizophrenia, such as antidepressents and anti-anxiety medications.  Antidepressents can help reduce the depression symptoms, and anxiolytics can help with the panic and anxiety feelings that can arise.  Depression and anxiety both can affect the manifestation of schizophrenic symptoms, and their management can effectively help reduce the risk of relapse.  Relapse prevention and symptom reduction are huge benefits, yet a minority of people are using these medications.

Some benzodiazepines such as lithium are helpful in reducing some manic, anxiety related, and depression related symptoms as well.  Anti-epileptic medicines can help those who haven’t responded well to the usual medicines.  There are some cases where females will be given estrogen replacement medicine, which possibly helps protect the patient from the nervous and muscular system problems discussed above.


These are the main types of medicines that will be prescribed to the newly diagnosed schizophrenic.  There is a lot to understand and usually hearing about it for the first time only serves to create more confusion.  If you or a friend or loved one has recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, refer them or take a few reads over this article.  It may help you categorize these medicines in your mind to help you think about and understand them more quickly.


  1. I had a friend who went to a residential treatment facility as a teen. He was having hallucinations and just acting crazy, not behaving in school or at home. He told me about how kids would get violent and have to be restrained, and sometimes they were given the “booty juice,” which was a shot that calmed them down. He said some kids would get thorazine and some would get haldol, but that haldol was horrible. It would make your jaw clench so hard that your teeth wanted to pop out. Your whole neck would be tired from flexing once it went away.

    • no way, I got out of a residential treatment center last year that used “booty juice” and restrained us like crazy.

  2. Ben, thanks for sharing your story! What your friend is describing is what is called “acute dystonia.” It is a side effect of antipsychotic medicines that happens soon after taking them which causes the muscles of the neck, jaw, and face to tighten up. This can be excruciating, as your friend has so artfully described! I hope this helps.

Click Your State to View the Surrounding Schizophrenia Treatment Centers

To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

Who Else is Helping?

Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

Mental Health TalkHealthy DebateTechnorati
Wellness WordworksVisuallyexaminer

...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?

2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?

3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?

4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?

5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?

6. How can schizophrenia be treated?

7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?

8. What is the most common age of onset?

9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?

10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?


Show me the answers!


Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!


How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:


This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.


We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!


The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.


There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.


What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!


Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!


There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.


While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.


Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!


The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.


There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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