Schizophrenia Treatments: What Is Schizophrenia?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality, which causes significant distress for the individual, their family members, and friends. If left untreated, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be persistent and disabling.
However, effective schizophrenia treatments are available. When delivered in a timely, coordinated, and sustained manner, treatment can help affected individuals to engage in school or work, achieve independence, and enjoy personal relationships.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thought processes, perceptions, emotional responsiveness, and social interactions. Although the course of schizophrenia varies among individuals, schizophrenia is typically persistent and can be both severe and disabling.
Symptoms of schizophrenia include psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, and thought disorder (unusual ways of thinking), as well as reduced expression of emotions, reduced motivation to accomplish goals, difficulty in social relationships, motor impairment, and cognitive impairment. Although symptoms typically start in late adolescence or early adulthood, schizophrenia is often viewed from a developmental perspective.
Cognitive impairment and unusual behaviors sometimes appear in childhood, and the persistent presence of multiple symptoms represents a later stage of the disorder. This pattern may reflect disruptions in brain development as well as environmental factors such as prenatal or early life stress. This perspective fuels the hope that early interventions will improve the course of schizophrenia which is often severely disabling when left untreated.
Onset and Symptoms
Schizophrenia is typically diagnosed in the late teen years to the early thirties and tends to emerge earlier in males (late adolescence – early twenties) than females (early twenties – early thirties). A diagnosis of schizophrenia often follows the first episode of psychosis, when individuals first display symptoms of schizophrenia. Gradual changes in thinking, mood, and social functioning often begin before the first episode of psychosis, usually starting in mid-adolescence. Schizophrenia can occur in younger children, but it is rare for it to occur before late adolescence. The symptoms of schizophrenia generally fall into the following three categories:
Include altered perceptions (e.g., changes in vision, hearing, smell, touch, and taste), abnormal thinking, and odd behaviors. People with psychotic symptoms may lose a shared sense of reality and experience themselves and the world in a distorted way. Specifically, individuals typically who needs schizophrenia treatments experience this:
- Hallucinations, such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
- Delusions, which are firmly held beliefs not supported by objective facts (e.g., paranoia – irrational fears that others are “out to get you” or believing that the television, radio, or internet are broadcasting special messages that require some response)
- Thought disorder, which includes unusual thinking or disorganized speech
Include loss of motivation, disinterest or lack of enjoyment in daily activities, social withdrawal, difficulty showing emotions, and difficulty functioning normally. Specifically, individuals typically have:
- Reduced motivation and difficulty planning, beginning, and sustaining activities
- Diminished feelings of pleasure in everyday life
- “Flat affect,” or reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone
- Reduced speaking
Include problems in attention, concentration, and memory. For some individuals, the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia are subtle, but for others, they are more prominent and interfere with activities like following conversations, learning new things, or remembering appointments. Specifically, individuals typically experience:
- Difficulty processing information to make decisions
- Problems using information immediately after learning it
- Trouble focusing or paying attention
Several factors contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia, find Schizophrenia Treatments as soon as possible.
Schizophrenia sometimes runs in families. However, it is important to know that just because someone in a family has schizophrenia, it does not mean that other members of the family will have it as well. Genetic studies strongly suggest that many different genes increase the risk of developing schizophrenia, but that no single gene causes the disorder by itself. It is not yet possible to use genetic information to predict who will develop schizophrenia.
Scientists think that interactions between genetic risk and aspects of an individual’s environment may play a role in the development of schizophrenia. Environmental factors that may be involved include living in poverty, stressful surroundings, and exposure to viruses or nutritional problems before birth.
Brain structure and function
Scientists think that differences in brain structure, function, and interactions among chemical messengers (called neurotransmitters) may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. For example, differences in the volumes of specific components of the brain, in the way regions of the brain are connected and work together, and in neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, are found in people with schizophrenia.
Differences in brain connections and brain circuits seen in people with schizophrenia may begin developing before birth. Changes to the brain that occurs during puberty may trigger psychotic episodes in people who are vulnerable due to genetics, environmental exposures, or the types of brain differences mentioned above.
Schizophrenia and Alcohol
People with any mental health disorder can be more likely to develop alcoholism. This is because of the way some alcohol impacts many disorders. For example, alcohol impacts individuals with some disorders more strongly, or it could temporarily mask their symptoms. When an underlying mental health condition is present in addition to alcoholism, it is known as a co-occurring disorder or a dual-diagnosis. In the case of individuals with schizophrenia, like everyone, alcohol dulls the senses.
The desired effects of alcohol use occur because alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. This can be a great relief to someone with schizophrenia, as it dulls their senses and can make them less aware of what they are experiencing.
Not only does this dull many symptoms of schizophrenia, giving the sufferer break from what they normally experience, but studies show that alcohol can have a greater euphoric effect on them than people without the disorder. Naturally, with the increase of a “reward,” people who suffer from schizophrenia are likely to drink more as a respite from their symptoms and an increased sense of well-being. The increased consumption makes schizophrenics more susceptible to developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD).
An alcohol use disorder will affect a schizophrenic in every way it would affect someone without the disorder, straining their relationships and health. Additionally, the symptoms of withdrawal can make their hallucinations worse, adding additional pain to what they are seeing and hearing.
Schizophrenia Treatments & Therapies
The causes of schizophrenia are complex and are not fully understood, so current treatments focus on managing symptoms and solving problems related to day-to-day functioning. Schizophrenia Treatments include:
Antipsychotic medications can help reduce the intensity and frequency of psychotic symptoms. They are usually taken daily in pill or liquid forms. Some antipsychotic medications are given as injections once or twice a month, which some individuals find to be more convenient than daily oral doses. Patients whose symptoms do not improve with standard antipsychotic medication typically receive clozapine. People treated with clozapine must undergo routine blood testing to detect a potentially dangerous side effect that occurs in 1-2% of patients.
Many people taking antipsychotic medications during their Schizophrenia Treatments have side effects such as weight gain, dry mouth, restlessness, and drowsiness when they start taking these medications. Some of these side effects subside over time, but others may persist, which may cause some people to consider stopping their antipsychotic medication.
Suddenly stopping medication can be dangerous and it can make schizophrenia symptoms worse. People should not stop taking an antipsychotic medication without talking to a health care provider first. Shared decision-making between doctors and patients is the recommended strategy for determining the best type of medication or medication combination and the right dose.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavioral skills training, supported employment, and cognitive remediation interventions may help address the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. A combination of these therapies and antipsychotic medication is common. Schizophrenia Treatments, especially Psychosocial treatment, can be helpful for teaching and improving coping skills to address the everyday challenges of schizophrenia. They can help people pursue their life goals, such as attending school, working, or forming relationships. Individuals who participate in regular psychosocial treatment are less likely to relapse or be hospitalized.
Family Education and Support
Educational programs for family members, significant others, and friends offer instruction about schizophrenia treatments, symptoms, and strategies for assisting the person with the illness. Increasing key supporters’ understanding of psychotic symptoms, treatment options, and the course of recovery can lessen their distress, bolster coping and empowerment, and strengthen their capacity to offer effective assistance. Family-based services may be provided on an individual basis or through multi-family workshops and support groups.
Coordinated Specialty Care
Coordinated specialty care (CSC) is a general term used to describe recovery-oriented treatment programs for people with first-episode psychosis, an early stage of schizophrenia. A team of health professionals and specialists deliver Schizophrenia Treatments, CSC, which includes psychotherapy, medication management, case management, employment, and education support, and family education and support. The person with early psychosis and the teamwork together to make treatment decisions, involving family members as much as possible. Compared to typical care for early psychosis, CSC is more effective at reducing symptoms, improving quality of life, and increasing involvement in work or school.
Assertive Community Treatment
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) is designed especially for individuals with schizophrenia who are at risk for repeated hospitalizations or homelessness. The key elements of ACT (Schizophrenia Treatments type) include a multidisciplinary team, including a medication prescriber, a shared caseload among team members, direct service provision by team members, a high frequency of patient contact, low patient-to-staff ratios, and outreach to patients in the community. ACT reduces hospitalizations and homelessness among individuals with schizophrenia.
How can I help someone I know to go into Schizophrenia Treatments?
Caring for and supporting a loved one with schizophrenia can be very challenging. It can be difficult to know how to respond to someone who is experiencing psychosis.
Here are some things you can do to help your loved one:
- Help them get treatment and encourage them to stay in treatment
- Remember that their beliefs or hallucinations seem very real to them
- Tell them that you acknowledge that everyone has the right to see things their way
- Be respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior
Some symptoms require immediate emergency care. If your loved ones are thinking about harming themselves, others or attempting suicide, seek help right away.
Reclaim Your Life With Schizophrenia Treatments
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. This should not be taken lightly. We Level Up Washington center can provide you, or someone you love, Schizophrenia Treatments with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.
 National Institute of Mental Health (www.nimh.nih.gov)