Before getting into the details of treatments for schizophrenia, it is important to understand that doctors usually work on short term and long term goals. The short term goal is to reduce the symptoms or prevent their recurrence, and the long term goal is to reduce the chances of relapse. These milestones have to be reached before working on the next course of action. It is important to note that there is no 100% cure for schizophrenia. One can only opt for treatments to manage the condition.
Here are some of the treatment options available:
Medications for schizophrenia are called antipsychotics. Their primary role is to relieve some of the most troubling symptoms including hallucinations and delusions, among others. Some of these medications include fluphenazine, haloperidol, loxapine, thioridazine, thiothixene, trifluoperazine, and chlorpromazine. While these medications are called “first-generation antipsychotics,” the newer medicines, also known as the “second-generation” medicines, are preferred to treat schizophrenia as they come with fewer side effects. Some second-generation medicines to treat schizophrenia are as follows:
Clozapine is an FDA-approved medication for people with treatment-resistant schizophrenia. It is known to decrease suicidal behavior in patients.
Note that this list is not comprehensive, and one must consult a doctor before even thinking of obtaining these medicines as they are not available over the counter.
Those with severe symptoms are unable to manage themselves during schizophrenic episodes. So, they are generally advised to be admitted in the hospital. Research shows that those with severe symptoms are known to hurt themselves. Hospitalization ensures that they are monitored 24/7, and their condition is slowly stabilized.
For decades now, psychosocial therapy has proved to be one of the finest approaches to manage schizophrenia. While medicines can only reduce the symptoms, this therapy looks at schizophrenia from a holistic angle where problems related to behavior, psychology, social interaction, and occupational problems (associated with schizophrenia) are addressed. Rehabilitation, family therapy, individual psychotherapy, and cognitive remediation are some of the tools used. It helps a person detect the early signs of relapse and effectively manage their symptoms. The therapy also aims at preventing relapses. Most patients are asked to undergo psychosocial therapy because it is known to produce remarkable and long-lasting positive changes.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS)
DBS is a neurosurgical procedure that has been successfully employed for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and tremors. In this procedure, electrodes are surgically implanted into the brain to stimulate specific areas of the brain that are responsible for thinking and perception. Some doctors also employ it for reducing the symptoms of schizophrenia, but there are only limited studies done on this topic, and so it is not advisable to opt for this treatment unless specifically recommended by a specialist.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
ECT is a procedure where electrodes are attached to a person’s scalp, and when they are under the effect of general anesthesia, a low-level electric shock is delivered to the brain. It causes a controlled seizure, and a series of ECT sessions over time leads to a transformation in mood and thinking.