Schizophrenia is one of the psychotic disorders or a psychological or a mental health condition in which a person loses contact with the reality in association with hallucinations and delusions being the more prominent symptoms.
It is usually reported in late adolescence or at the beginning of adulthood. It is a chronic disorder which accompanies an individual for the lifetime. So, if you know someone suffering from schizophrenia or you have a dear one struggling with this psychological condition, then surely you must be curious to know about its treatment procedure.
Here we have tried to provide you with detailed information for the Treatment for Schizophrenia.
There are an official set of symptoms which a patient must show in order to get diagnosed as a schizophrenic. As per diagnostic guidelines, an individual should possess two out of the following symptoms for a period of at least 6 months duration:
- Hallucinations (false perceptions)
- Delusions (false and firm beliefs that are based on irrelevant backgrounds and are difficult to change)
- Poorly organized speech and thoughts
- Bizarre behaviour or hyperactivity
- Catatonia (poorly coordinated motor movements)
Complete list of Symptoms coming soon
One has to go to a psychologist or a psychiatrist for getting a diagnosis of schizophrenia and should discuss the noticeable changes. The doctor or the psychiatrist would evaluate psychologically as well as a proper medical examination is done. They will take more information regarding family history, recent behavior or any past medical or psychological illness, if present.
The doctors may perform CT scanning and MRI for ruling out the possibility of brain cancer or a tumour. They may also do a urine test or a blood test for ruling out the possibility of drug abuse.
A psychologist also performs various psychological tests for assessing cognition, personality and other projective tests such as Rorschach test which can dig deeper into the mind of the individual.
Early detection of schizophrenia and effective medications could make an individual better and enable an individual to lead a more stable life.
Let us know more about what type of medicines are recommended in schizophrenia.
For treating the psychotic symptoms that are present in schizophrenia, the psychiatrists recommend taking antipsychotics to provide relief from symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.
These medications target the neurotransmitters in the brain, mainly dopamine and serotonin. Both these chemicals play a very important role in causing schizophrenia according to medical model theory.
It might be possible that the psychiatrist would recommend taking medications for the lifetime to an affected individual despite any improvements in the patient just for preventing the chances of getting a relapse (facing the symptoms again and again)
Antipsychotics could be prescribed in any form –
- Through Injection or
- Liquid form.
Those patients who do not show compliance with regular medications may consult their doctors.
In such cases, they are given long-acting injectable antipsychotics (LAI). This is a strong dose which is usually given for once or twice in a month and it acts
Doctors usually select the medications depending on various factors such as its effect on the reduction of symptoms, the cost-effectiveness of the drug, potential side effects, the accessibility of medication, and the dosage of the drug.
There are majorly two categories of antipsychotics which are available in the market which are first-generation antipsychotics which are also called conventional or Typical antipsychotics. Some of the common medications under this category include:
Another category of antipsychotics is second-generation antipsychotics which are primarily called atypical antipsychotic medications some of which are mentioned below:
Antipsychotics can be of great support as a treatment option for managing the psychotic symptoms but there are potential side effects that can be experienced by an individual while taking antipsychotics. Hence, before consuming any medicine, one should always discuss the pros and cons of taking antipsychotic medications.
Every individual is unique and hence, the reactions by the body after taking an antipsychotic would also be different. The drugs usually take time in managing the disturbing symptoms, for instance, delusions and hallucinations often get reduced in within few weeks and days respectively.
In about 6 weeks time, a person starts feeling better and report improvements in the condition.
The effectiveness of the medications will also depend upon the onset of the disorder as well as the severity of the symptoms and other lifestyle changes.
We have previously seen that there are two groups of antipsychotics; however, patients have reported more side effects while taking conventional or typical antipsychotics in comparison to the atypical or new antipsychotics. Some of the most commonly observed side effects are listed below:
- The hormone prolactin is observed to be altered while consuming antipsychotics and it usually gets increased in the body due to which the sexual activities gets affected, there are various changes in the menstrual cycles in case of females, the breast tissue gets an extra growth in both men as well as women.
- The atypical antipsychotics have shown to cause one most common side effect and that is gaining weight. One has to keep on struggling with controlling blood sugar levels and cholesterol levels.
- Both categories of antipsychotic medications can cause a disorder of movement which is called tardive dyskinesia. In this, there is an uncontrollable movement of muscles of the neck region, face, and tongue. It could be permanent in nature. Although both the generations of antipsychotics could cause this movement disorder, still the chances are high with conventional antipsychotics.
- Some other commonly reported side effects of taking antipsychotics are drowsiness, constipation, nausea, decreased blood pressure, dryness in mouth etc.
Long Acting Antipsychotics – Advantages
Taking a pill regularly could be a difficult task for many patients and hence one of the biggest boons in treatment options that are available is the use of LAIs as it can keep you going with the treatment with full convenience but make sure to discuss it with your doctor prior to taking any medications. However, these medications are only prescribed when someone is suffering from schizophrenia for past many years.
A lot of appointments have to be made with the doctor if one is taking LAIs and after taking a shot of this strong drug, one can get mild side effects such as painful sensations or soreness in muscles right after the injection.
One of the potentially dangerous side effects is the post-injection delirium sedation syndrome which is characterized by the symptoms such as dizziness, involuntary movements, confusing state etc. after an hour of taking the injection. Therefore, it is recommended to stay at the doctor’s clinic for at least 3 hours after taking the injection so that in case any side effects occur, the doctor can easily come into rescue.
There could be a variety of drugs that can interact with the antipsychotics and make the effect of the drug worse. Hence, one has to take recommendations from doctors so that he can select the right type of medication for the schizophrenic patient. Some drugs that could interact with the medications and create problems include antihistamines, benzodiazepines, medicines used for controlling blood pressure, heart-related medicines, herbal supplements etc.
Relapses are very common to happen in case of schizophrenia especially when there is an improvement in symptoms reduction. After recognizing the early signs of relapse such as difficulty in sleeping, changes in mood, hearing voices when it is not there, delusional beliefs, aggression, suicidal ideations etc, you should immediately discuss the condition with the doctor for further treatment or plan of action.
Some later signs could also be observed such as smiling without any reason, bizarre thoughts, physical aggression etc. We have come up with certain tips that could be really helpful in relapse prevention which is mentioned below:
- One should consume medications as directed by the psychiatrist and one should continue taking medications even if there are no symptoms.
- Any drug consumption should be avoided. It makes the situation worse and any affected individual could take the help of his/her friends or relatives or family members to deal with substance abuse or addiction problems.
- One should always look for positivity in handling the distress caused due to the mental health condition. Stress can lead to the triggering of psychotic symptoms; hence, there should be support from family members and friends.
- Exercise daily for around half an hour and one can always do it along with a partner.
- Also, one should take adequate sleep as sleeping could be a difficult task for those who are suffering from schizophrenia. One should control the intake of caffeine and exercise regularly for controlling sleep problems.
Therefore, schizophrenia is one such chronic mental illness which could be only handled by using medications as well as therapeutic treatment. However, a lot of patience is required both on part of the patient as well as the family members in dealing with this psychotic disorder as it goes for a lifetime.
So, make sure that the detection of schizophrenia is done at an early stage so that the affected individual can get proper treatment and become more stable over time.