person suffering from SchizophreniaThe best treatment for schizophrenia is a combination of medication, psychological therapy, and community support.

People with schizophrenia experience more positive outcomes if they have:

  • Medication and psychological treatment together
  • Medications to manage depression or anxiety, if needed
  • Education about their illness
  • A supportive partner, family member or friends involved in their care
  • Access to a 24-hour crisis support
  • A mental health professional who takes care of planning and coordinating their care
  • Support to find and keep a job or continue education
  • Somewhere safe and affordable to live
  • Support to maintain a healthy lifestyle

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a complex, chronic mental health disorder characterized by an array of symptoms, including delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behavior, and impaired cognitive ability. The early onset of the disease, along with its chronic course, make it a disabling disorder for many patients and their families.

Schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed.

Experts believe schizophrenia results from a combination of genetic and environmental causes. The chance of having schizophrenia is 10% if an immediate family member (a parent or sibling) has the illness. The risk is as high as 65% for those who have an identical twin with schizophrenia.

The symptoms of schizophrenia are often defined as either “positive” or “negative.”

Positive symptoms include:

  • Delusions (distorted thoughts, false beliefs)
  • Hallucinations (disordered perceptions) that may involve any of the five senses, including sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste
  • Disorganized speech
  • Unusual motor activity or chaotic behavior

Negative symptoms include:

  • Restricted emotional range (“flat affect”)
  • Limited, unresponsive speech with little expression
  • Trouble starting or continuing goal-directed activity

How Can You Treat Schizophrenia Effectively?

With proper treatment, patients can lead productive lives. Schizophrenia treatment involves medications and therapy to reduce the risk of future psychotic episodes and improve relationships. 

Psychiatrists say the most effective treatment for schizophrenia patients is usually a combination of:

  • Oral or injectable medication
  • Psychological counseling
  • Self-help resources

Treatment can help relieve many of the symptoms of schizophrenia. However, the majority of patients with the disorder have to cope with the symptoms for life. A psychiatrist experienced in treating schizophrenia usually guides treatment. The treatment team also may include a psychologist, social worker, psychiatric nurse, and possibly a case manager to coordinate care. The full-team approach may be available in clinics with expertise in schizophrenia treatment.

What’s the Standard Treatment for Schizophrenia?

Anti-psychosis drugs administered orally or through injections have transformed schizophrenia treatment. These drugs work on chemicals in the brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. These newer medications are less likely to cause certain side effects that the first-generation antipsychotics incite. Thanks to them, most patients can live in the community, rather than stay in a hospital.

pharmacist fulfulling prescription for schizophreniaSome of the common schizophrenia medications are:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify Maintena, Aristada)
  • Asenapine (Saphris)
  • Brexpiprazole (Rexulti)
  • Cariprazine (Vraylar)
  • Chlorpromazine
  • Clozapine (Clozaril, Versacloz)
  • Fluphenazine
  • Fluphenazine decanoate
  • Haloperidol 
  • Haloperidol decanoate
  • Iloperidone (Fanapt)
  • Lurasidone (Latuda)
  • Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • Quetiapine (Seroquel) 
  • Paliperidone (Invega Sustenna, Invega Trinza)
  • Perphenazine
  • Risperidone (Risperdal Consta, Perseris)
  • Ziprasidone (Geodon) 

The primary schizophrenia treatment is medication. However, oftentimes, compliance (following the medication regimen) can be a major problem. People with schizophrenia often come off their medication for long periods during their lives at significant personal costs to themselves and those around them—nonadherence rates in schizophrenia range from 37% to 74%.

Doctors decide which medication is best by looking at several factors, including:

  • How effectively it alleviates symptoms
  • How much it will cost
  • Side effects
  • How easily the medication is to procure
  • How often the patient has to take it

Getting a diagnosis of schizophrenia doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life. Despite the widespread misconception that people with schizophrenia have no chance of recovery or improvement, the reality is much more hopeful. Currently, there is no cure for schizophrenia, but you can treat and manage it with medication, self-help strategies, and supportive therapies.