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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Treatment and Care Options

Schizophrenia Treatment and Care Options

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental illness that is characterized by disordered thinking, communication problems and difficulty managing emotions. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, schizophrenia affects approximately 1 percent of people in the U.S. Schizophrenia treatment is important for subduing symptoms and improving the quality of life of people who struggle with the disease. Treatment options include education, medication, peer support, social skills training, psychotherapy and holistic therapy.

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Medications

One of the markers of schizophrenia is psychosis. This may involve delusions and hallucinations. Schizophrenia medication can significantly reduce psychosis, making it easier for someone to think clearly, manage emotions and make decisions.

Studies show that approximately 70 percent of people who have the disease feel improvement when they take antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotic medication for schizophrenia should be used throughout the patient’s life, even if symptoms of the disease subside.

First-Generation Antipsychotics

Until the middle of the 20th century, doctors hadn’t developed many treatments for schizophrenia. Sedatives were often used just to keep patients calm. However, people under the influence of these medications were unable to maintain a good quality of life.

The first generation of antipsychotics was developed in the mid-1900s to alleviate the symptoms of psychosis. Many of these drugs are still used today in treatments for schizophrenia and can be purchased online at reputable websites such as YouDrugstore.com as long as you have a doctor’s prescription.

Some commonly used first-generation antipsychotics include:

  • Thiothixene (Navane)
  • Haloperidol (Haldol)
  • Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
  • Perphenazine (Trilafon)

Second-Generation Antipsychotics

Second-generation antipsychotics were developed in the 1980s. These medications tend to have fewer side effects than first-generation drugs, which can produce movement disorders similar to Parkinson’s disease. The newer medications may also be more effective in treating negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as fatigue. With a proper prescription from a doctor, you can buy these medicines online at websites like YouDrugstore.com.

Some commonly used second-generation antipsychotics include:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
  • Risperidone (Risperdal)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel)

Choosing A Doctor And Therapist

There are a few avenues that are suitable when seeking treatment.

Hospitalization (Inpatient Therapy)

Medication is not the only method of treatment for schizophrenia. In fact, a variety of strategies may be necessary to help a patient manage the symptoms of the illness. While medication can reduce many symptoms, some people may choose to be hospitalized if they are having difficulty controlling the disease.

Because modern medicine has helped diminish the intensity of schizophrenia symptoms, the frequency and duration of hospital stays has been reduced. However, patients who are experiencing acute symptoms or going through a crisis may need around-the-clock care.

During the hospitalization period, health professionals will work to stabilize the patient and make sure that he or she is safe. Individuals who are hospitalized for schizophrenia may be able to stay in an area devoted to patients who suffer from mental illnesses. People usually have the freedom to walk around within this area and visit with other patients, depending on the severity of the symptoms.

You may be able to stay in a facility that is dedicated to patients who suffer from mental health disorders. These centers range from very clinical to intimate and home-like.

During an inpatient stay, the individual’s situation will be evaluated, and medications may be administered to help the person stay comfortable. At this time, the patient’s long-term medication protocol will also be assessed. The dosage, frequency and type of medication may be adjusted to provide better results for managing the disease.

Medications are only one portion of the schizophrenia treatment that is offered at an inpatient facility. A psychiatric consultation gives patients the chance to speak with the clinicians to discuss the best therapeutic regimen. Developing a personalized treatment plan helps patients get exactly what they need from this experience.

Psychotherapy is almost always offered in conjunction with medication. This may involve individual or group therapy. In a group therapy session, the facilitator will often encourage individuals to support one another by discussing their personal issues. In individual therapy, the focus is on developing trust and allowing the patient to explain what’s going on in his or her life.

One of the benefits of living in an inpatient environment is that an individual with schizophrenia can live in an orderly setting. This is especially important for people who feel as though they can’t establish order in their own lives. The routines and schedules that are implemented in a hospital setting can teach people how to maintain control of their lives.

After leaving the hospital, some patients may choose to stay in a transitional setting. In these facilities, they can experience the independence of living alone but still have access to care if they need it.

People with schizophrenia can voluntarily enter a hospital setting if they feel like their symptoms are getting out of hand. Some people may be involuntarily committed if they are viewed as a threat to others or themselves. The laws for involuntary commitment vary by state.

If you or a loved one is considering seeking help from a psychiatric hospital, you can call 866-571-6796 to speak with a trained professional who can assist you with finding the best one for you. People who are concerned with paying for treatment should know that mental health disorders are usually covered by insurance. It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider to learn the details about your coverage before enrolling in an inpatient facility.

Psychotherapy For Substance Abuse

Unfortunately, some people who struggle with schizophrenia have a hard time adapting to daily life. Because of this, they may abuse substances, such as drugs and alcohol. Experts say that there is a high occurrence of substance abuse in patients with schizophrenia.

Some of the substances that are typically abused include:

  • Alcohol
  • Narcotics
  • Cocaine
  • Nicotine
  • Cannabis

In many cases, substance misuse is correlated with an increase in psychotic symptoms and a decrease in compliance with a treatment plan. Using drugs also increases the risk of illness and injury. Chemicals can impair cognitive function in the short term and aggravate the symptoms of schizophrenia. Because substance use disorder is also a disease, both illnesses must be treated together to achieve the best results.

Psychotherapy is one option for treating substance abuse and schizophrenia. Many therapeutic programs to address a dual diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder and schizophrenia involve cognitive behavioral therapy. This methodology focuses on changing negative behaviors that adversely affect the patient’s life.

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During psychotherapy, people with mental illness may delve deeply into their subconscious thoughts and patterns. They may receive education and materials about their psychological disorders. They will also be taught about crisis intervention so that they know who to contact in case of an acute psychotic break.

The therapist may also help the patient remember to take his or her medication. Symptoms will be evaluated, and medications may be adjusted to improve their effectiveness.

Electroconvulsive Therapy

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, was a primary form of treatment for schizophrenia before medications were developed to manage the disease. Today, the practice has been refined to produce better results with fewer negative effects.

Although ECT may get bad press, it has been proven to be an effective method of care for people with severe or catatonic schizophrenia. The procedure can have dramatic results and even save someone’s life.

This method of treatment can also be used for patients who cannot take antipsychotic medications. It’s also a faster way of treating patients with acute psychosis or suicidal tendencies who cannot wait several weeks for the drugs to kick in.

During ECT, the patient is put to sleep and given medication to immobilize the muscles temporarily. Electrodes are placed on the patient’s head, and a mild electronic current is briefly passed through them to produce a small seizure. The patient sleeps peacefully throughout the process and awakens approximately 15 minutes later.

Although doctors are cautious about prescribing ECT as a form of therapy, the procedure has been shown to work to minimize symptoms of people with acute psychosis, aggression, resistance to medication and catatonia.

ECT can be done in a hospital or psychiatric facility under the supervision of a professional. Some people only opt for one session. Others may be treated a few times a week for up to one month.

Family Therapy

A mental illness affects everyone who interacts with a patient. It’s important to address the emotions and concerns of family members who are close with the patient. Family therapy helps loved ones understand the condition. It also gives family members resources to help treat the patient.

In this environment, family members are encouraged to attend a meeting with a counselor. The patient may or may not be present. A specific member of the family may be designated as a caregiver.

As long as the patient provides consent, the therapist can relay details and information about the condition with the family members. Loved ones can update the professional on the patient’s behavior and process. They may also discuss how the patient’s illness affects them.

The aim of family therapy is to give loved ones skills that they can use to interact with the patient even after the course of counseling has ended. According to Schizophrenia.com, family therapy is a cost-effective way to treat the disease and lowers relapse rates.

Many psychiatric facilities and rehab centers offer family therapy.

Complementary Health Approaches

Beyond therapy, healthy habits can also make a positive difference.

Diet And Exercise

Some evidence shows that diet helps regulate mental health. In The Madness of Adam and Eve: How Schizophrenia Shaped Humanity, professor David Horrobin explains how omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid supplements have been found to improve symptoms of schizophrenia.

Increasing consumption of these nutrients has even produced beneficial results in patients who are resistant to antipsychotic medication. Some other supplements, such as vitamins E and B6, can reduce some of the side effects of antipsychotic drugs.

People with schizophrenia often have a higher incidence of health problems than people without the disease. Focusing on diet and exercise can prevent them from being debilitated by other health conditions.

Exercise also increases the levels of mood-boosting chemicals in the body. It has also been shown to have calming effects on people. People who have trouble sticking to an exercise plan may find it helpful to have accountability. For example, FitCoachCall provides motivation and accountability to help individuals maintain their fitness goals.

Manage Stress

Too much stress can make anyone feel confused, overwhelmed and chaotic. The National Alliance on Mental Illness explains that stress can also exacerbate symptoms of mental illness. Some patients experience more hallucinations and delusions when they’re under excessive pressure. Learning how to minimize and cope with stress is an effective strategy for minimizing schizophrenic episodes.

People are most vulnerable to stress when they:

  • Don’t get proper sleep
  • Aren’t eating well
  • Aren’t exercising
  • Don’t have emotional, financial and social support
  • Are going through a major life change
  • Are in poor physical health

Scheduling time for yourself is important if you’re under duress. Although that’s easier said than done in this busy world, you can use certain resources to improve your relaxation skills. Stress relief products like these can encourage you to focus on stress management.

Personal Development

If you are dealing with a poor quality of life in addition to your schizophrenia symptoms, you may find it hard to cope. Working on personal fulfillment can help you create a life that’s motivating, satisfying and healthy.

Many people who suffer from schizophrenia lack the incentive to get out of bed every day. They struggle with psychotic episodes and lose enthusiasm for life.

Learning tools for self-empowerment, building relationships and supporting themselves can help them regain their footing in life. In “Psychosis,” author Ronen David shares his struggle with the disease and provides techniques to turn things around.

Symptoms

Schizophrenia changes the way that you behave, feel and think. Symptoms usually begin to appear between the ages of 15 and 30. The frequency and severity of schizophrenia symptoms can wax and wane.

Symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three categories. Positive symptoms are not “good.” They occur in addition to normal behavior.

Negative symptoms are not “bad.” They are just things that stop happening as a result of the disease. Cognitive symptoms involve the way that your brain processes and stores information.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Losing interest in life
  • Feeling emotionless
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Inability to finish what you start

Positive symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Jumpy or odd movements
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disordered thoughts
  • Jumbled speech
  • Difficulty concentrating

Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Trouble with memory
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Inability to organize thoughts
  • Attention deficits

Some early signs of schizophrenia begin to develop before the condition becomes full blown. These may include:

  • Depression
  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Hostility or aggressiveness
  • Paranoia
  • Decline of personal hygiene
  • Inability to experience pleasurable emotions
  • Forgetfulness
  • Sleeping problems

If you’re concerned that you might have schizophrenia, you can take this schizophrenia screening test.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most effective treatment for schizophrenia?

Medications are the foundation of schizophrenia treatments. However, the disease manifests itself differently in everyone. A customized blend of psychological, holistic and experiential therapies is often necessary for long-term management of the illness.

Can schizophrenics kill you?

It’s a myth that most schizophrenics are violent. While delusions may cause disordered behavior and aggressiveness, the condition is extremely complex. Although the disease itself is not fatal, many people who suffer from schizophrenia have an increased risk of suicide.

How can I help someone I know with schizophrenia?

Seeking immediate help is the best way to assist someone with schizophrenia. Accepting the illness can help you support your loved one. Do your best to help the individual get what they need and enjoy life. However, make sure to take care of your own needs too.

Can schizophrenia ever go away?

There is no cure for schizophrenia, but the condition can be successfully managed. Minimizing symptoms is one of the best ways to maintain a high quality of life. Using a variety of schizophrenia treatment options will help you prevent symptoms from recurring.

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