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How to Find the Right Schizophrenia Treatment for You

How to Find the Right Schizophrenia Treatment for You

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that has no cure. It affects the decision-making skills, relationships, emotions, and thoughts of those who suffer from it. Getting early treatment is the best way to manage this condition. Schizophrenia treatment depends on the symptoms that a person experiences. 

Some people are required to take medication for a time; sometimes they must take it for the rest of their lives to manage their symptoms. Psychotherapy is a part of the treatment plan to help one understand how to cope with and manage how they are feeling. There are many types of psychotherapy, and selecting the right one is important in managing this condition.

What Is Schizophrenia?

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Schizophrenia is a disorder of the brain. Those who suffer from this condition feel as if they are out of touch with reality. It isn't as common as some other mental disorders, but the symptoms of those who suffer from this condition are disabling.

Symptoms

The symptoms of schizophrenia usually show themselves between 16 and 30 years of age. Sometimes younger children can exhibit symptoms, but this is unusual. There are three categories of symptoms of schizophrenia which include cognitive, negative, and positive symptoms.

Cognitive symptoms are subtle for some while for others they are more noticeable. They can cause changes in memory and other thinking processes.

Symptoms of schizophrenia include:

  • Problems utilizing information after hearing it
  • Trouble paying attention or focusing
  • Problems with understanding information and how to use it

Negative symptoms include disruptions in normal behaviors and emotions. These symptoms can include:

  • Reduced speaking
  • Difficulty starting and continuing activities
  • Reduction of pleasurable feelings in daily life
  • Reduction of voice tone or facial expression

Positive symptoms include psychotic behaviors not normally seen in healthy individuals. People with these types of symptoms can lose touch with reality. Their symptoms can include:

  • Movement disorders
  • Dysfunctional or unusual thoughts
  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations

Types of Psychotherapy

There are different types of schizophrenia treatment that include a couple of types of psychotherapy. This includes individual psychotherapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and cognitive enhancement therapy.


Individual Psychotherapy


Individual psychotherapy involves one-on-one sessions with a psychiatrist or therapist who teaches the patient how to cope with thoughts and behaviors. They explain the condition and how it affects a person. What is real and what is imagined will be discussed to help with the daily management of life's challenges.


Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavior therapy helps with changing behavior and thinking. This type of therapy helps in dealing with hallucinations and inner voices. A combination of medication and CBT sessions will illuminate the triggers one has during episodes and how to stop or reduce them.


Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET)


Cognitive enhancement therapy is also known as cognitive remediation. This type of therapy helps people organize their thoughts, improve their memory and attention span, and recognize their triggers or social cues. It combines group sessions and computer-based brain training.


Risk Factors


Some risk factors in developing schizophrenia are one's environment or genes and an unusual brain structure or chemistry.


Environment and Genes

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It has been known for some time that schizophrenia can be hereditary. But there are also people who have schizophrenia who don't have a family history of it. There are those who have a family history but never end up experiencing any symptoms. It isn't possible to predict by genetics who will develop it; scientists think that many genes are responsible for the condition.

The combination of environment and genes are thought to cause schizophrenia symptoms. Some environmental factors include:

  • Psychosocial factors
  • Birth trauma
  • Malnutrition in the womb
  • Virus exposure

Unusual Brain Structure or Chemistry


It is thought by some in the scientific community that schizophrenia is an imbalance of the chemistry in the brain. Chemical reactions involving neurotransmitters, such as those found in glutamate and dopamine, play a role in the development of schizophrenia. Problems with brain development in the womb may cause issues in the way the brain functions. During puberty, the brain undergoes many changes that could trigger symptoms in those who have vulnerability due to brain abnormalities or genetic factors.

How Was Schizophrenia Treatment Done in the Past?

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In the past, schizophrenia treatment was dealt with by experimenting with various modalities. People who suffered from this condition were typically shunned by others who didn't understand what they were dealing with. Some people were institutionalized in state facilities. Fortunately, schizophrenia treatment has changed a great deal over the years.

How Is Schizophrenia Treated Now?

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The cause of schizophrenia is still unknown. Schizophrenia treatment is now a matter of eliminating symptoms in combination with therapy. Treatments include antipsychotics and psychosocial therapy.


Antipsychotics


This type of medication is taken on a daily basis in either a liquid or pill form. Some types of medications are administered by injection once or twice monthly.


Psychosocial Therapy


After a medication is found that works well, psychosocial treatment is the next step. Coping and learning how to address the challenges of schizophrenia helps people learn how to function in their daily lives. They can hold a job or attend school and pursue their life goals. People who go to regular therapy sessions are less likely to be hospitalized or have relapses.

Social skills training focuses on improving social interactions and communication skills.

Rehabilitation focuses on money management education, problem-solving and job counseling. This is an important step to take as schizophrenia often develops during the years of career development.

Family education is important for those who are supporting someone who suffers from schizophrenia. Those who have strong support groups do better than those without the backing of friends and family.

Self-help groups should be encouraged. Outreach and community care programs are effective in schizophrenia treatment.


Coordinated Specialty Care


This type of care incorporates various things such as family participation, case management, therapy, and medication. The goal is to improve the quality of life and reduce a person's symptoms.

How Can I Choose the Best Treatment?

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Eliminating or reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia is the goal in schizophrenia treatment. Getting control of your symptoms is the first step, and sometimes hospitalization is recommended depending on the severity of the symptoms. About 100,000 people in the US experience schizophrenia episodes yearly. Symptoms can include delusional thoughts or hallucinations, hearing voices, and paranoia associated with a break in reality.

It is important to seek early treatment as soon as symptoms show themselves; this can improve the chances of recovery. Some people have a harder time dealing with their symptoms than others, and some will require treatment after their symptoms subside.

Medications Used in Schizophrenia Treatment

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Antipsychotic medications are used in schizophrenia treatment to relieve problems with thinking, delusions, and hallucinations. They work by changing the chemistry in the brain and neurotransmitter function. These chemicals control our perception, mood, and thinking. There are different antipsychotic drugs in use known as first- and second-generation antipsychotics.

First-generation antipsychotics were first developed in the 1950s. Some of them cause muscle spasms as a side effect. Some of these symptoms are treatable, but in some cases, they can cause permanent abnormal movement. This is more commonly seen in older patients and related to the duration of the medication being taken.

Commonly prescribed drugs include:

  • Fluphenazine
  • Perphenazine
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Haldol (haloperidol)

Second-generation antipsychotics don't have as many of the same side effects as first-generation ones, but they may have others. High cholesterol, diabetes, and weight gain are some of the side effects experienced.

Commonly prescribed drugs include:

  • Latuda (lurasidone)
  • Invega (paliperidone)
  • Geodon (ziprasidone)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Clozaril (clozapine)
  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Risperdal (risperidone)

Other Possible Side Effects of Antipsychotic Drugs

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Both first- and second-generation antipsychotic medications can cause side effects in some patients. It is important to tell your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. There can also be interactions with other medications or supplements you are taking.

These symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Drowsiness
  • Weight gain, high cholesterol, or diabetes
  • Uncontrollable movements such as muscle spasms, tremors, or tics

 Things That Can be Done for Someone with Schizophrenia

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Support and caring go a long way in helping someone with schizophrenia. It can be difficult to know how to react to some symptoms a person displays. It is important to realize that schizophrenia is a biological condition.

Some things that can be done to help with schizophrenia treatment are:

  • Checking for support groups in the area
  • Being kind, supportive, and respectful without accepting inappropriate or dangerous behaviors
  • Telling the person you understand everyone has a right to their own point of view
  • Remembering the person believes their hallucinations and thoughts are real
  • Encouraging treatment and to stick with it

Conclusion

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Effective schizophrenia treatment depends on the patient's willingness to comply with their treatment plan. People who suffer from schizophrenia may have problems taking their medication. Nearly a third of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia don't take their medication as prescribed or refuse to take it at all. This could be due to the illness as it can be difficult for the patient to deal with reality. They may think they don't need medication or they may completely forget to take it. They may also feel distressed and confused and may not know what is happening to them.

In addition to medication, therapy is an important component of schizophrenia treatment. It can help the patient learn coping skills in order to deal with everyday challenges.

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