Schizophrenia Treatment

Schizophrenia Treatment, Causes, Symptoms, Therapies & Medication

What is Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness characterized by illogical thoughts, bizarre behavior and speech, and delusions or hallucinations, such as hearing voices. [1] The symptoms of schizophrenia interrupt a person’s typical emotions, behaviors, and abilities. The good news is that schizophrenia treatment can help control the symptoms for many people, enabling you to lead independently, and have a productive life.

Identifying who is at risk and how to prevent schizophrenia from occurring has been an important focus of researchers for years. In fact, a complete psychiatric exam by your doctor will be required to make a diagnosis. On the other hand, dual diagnosis treatment options are effective to approach substance-induced schizophrenia. Symptoms are gradual with drug use and may include several effects, including delusions or hallucinations. 

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Schizophrenia Causes

Medical researchers believe that several factors can contribute which include biological, genetic, and environmental factors.

There is ongoing research about the abnormalities in brain structure and how they can cause schizophrenia in an individual. Researchers also believe that low levels of certain brain chemicals which affect emotions and behavior may contribute to this mental disorder.

As with genetics, you will have a higher risk of developing this disorder if you have a family history of schizophrenia. Moreover, other risk factors for schizophrenia may include:

  • Using mind-altering drugs
  • Exposure to toxins or a virus before birth or during infancy
  • Having an inflammatory or an autoimmune disease
  • High-stress levels
Schizophrenia Treatment
Schizophrenia is treatable. Treatment with medications and psychosocial support is effective.

Schizophrenia Symptoms

Schizophrenia is an uncommon condition, affecting around 0.25% to 0.64% of people in the United States. It can have a profound impact on a person’s life, as well as the lives of those around them.

See below the early signs and major symptoms of this disorder:

  • Isolating oneself from friends and family
  • Difficulty completing normal daily activities
  • Disorganized thinking, such as trouble focusing or paying attention
  • Sleep problems
  • Irritability and agitation
  • Hallucinations (hallucinations are experiences that appear real but are created by your mind including seeing things, hearing voices, or smelling things that others around you do not experience)
  • Delusions (means you believe something despite facts to the contrary)
  • Agitated body movements or strange postures
  • Disorganized thinking or speech (you change topics rapidly when speaking or use made-up words)
  • Difficulty in controlling impulses
  • Odd emotional responses
  • Loss of interest or excitement in life
  • You cannot use learned information to make decisions
  • Also, being unaware of your symptoms or loss of insights

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Schizophrenia Complications

Schizophrenia Treatment
Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, but effective treatment can help a person manage the symptoms, prevent relapses, and avoid hospitalization.

To reclaim your life from this disorder, it is extremely important to seek out schizophrenia treatment. Above all, this mental illness increases the risk of serious complications including:

  • Family problems
  • Self-injury or suicide
  • Anxiety
  • Phobias
  • Depression
  • Alcohol or drug use
  • A higher risk for poverty and homelessness as schizophrenia may severely affect your functionality

Schizophrenia Prognosis

A 2014 study reported that even with treatment, only 20 percent of individuals with the disorder reported favorable outcomes. [2] Others are still experiencing schizophrenia symptoms for the remainder of their lives and almost 5 percent of people with this disorder die by suicide.

Successful schizophrenia treatment programs usually involve families in the process as they decrease the need for hospitalization and improve social functioning.

Above all, the right schizophrenia treatment for you can bring you a symptom-free life. Following your doctor’s recommendations will improve your prognosis even if the symptoms go away for a while and then return.

Schizophrenia Diagnosis

You will need to see a psychiatrist or mental health professional as there is not a single test to diagnose schizophrenia. And then, you will be asked about your medical history, mental health, and family medical history during your appointment.

The following tests for schizophrenia treatment may include:

  • A physical exam
  • Blood work
  • Imaging tests, including magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan

Substance abuse can also cause similar symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as certain medications and other mental illnesses. To summarize, your doctor may diagnose schizophrenia if you have had at least two symptoms for one month. And these symptoms must include disorganized speech, hallucinations, and delusions.

Schizophrenia Treatments

To begin with, there is no cure for schizophrenia. You will need lifelong treatment if you are diagnosed with this disorder. In this case, treatments can control or reduce the severity of your symptoms.

It is important to get treatment from a psychiatrist or mental health professional who already has experience in treating people with this disorder. You may also work with case managers or social workers.

According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 3 out of every 5 people diagnosed with schizophrenia will get better with treatment. Therefore, to get on the road to improvement, it is important that you learn about your condition, understand the risk factors, and you follow your doctor’s schizophrenia treatments.

Types of Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy or talk therapy can extremely be useful in helping people gain the skills they need to function in their daily activities. In fact, it is one of the most effective and common therapies for any mental illness.

Furthermore, Electroconvulsive therapy may be recommended to you if antipsychotic medications are not effective.

 In general, the best results occurred with the combination of focused psychotherapy, medication management, and a stable living environment for patients. Further work is needed because some patients do not respond well or completely to medication alone, and also because patients with schizophrenia and their families consistently rank psychotherapy as a highly valued service. [3]

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Types of Psychosocial Therapy

Psychosocial interventions can play a critical role in a comprehensive intervention program and are probably necessary components if treatment is viewed in the context of the patient’s overall level of functioning, quality of life, and compliance with prescribed treatments.

In addition to medication, effective care, and management, patients with schizophrenia require:

  • Problem-specific psychosocial treatment
  • Family psychoeducation
  • Day hospital/vocational rehabilitation and educational opportunities
  • Access to crisis counseling
  • Easily available inpatient psychiatric care
  • Supervised residential liging arrangements
  • Case management to obtain entitiements and coordinate the various facets of treatment
Schizophrenia Treatment
It is essential for a person to continue with their treatment plan, even if the symptoms improve.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) involves the induction of a seizure for therapeutic purposes by the administration of a variable frequency electrical stimulus shock via electrodes applied to the scalp. The effects of its use in people with schizophrenia are unclear. [4]

When ECT treatment is combined with antipsychotic drugs, it may be considered an option for people with schizophrenia, particularly when rapid global improvement and reduction of symptoms are desired. This is also the case for those with schizophrenia who show limited response to medication alone. Even though this initial beneficial effect may not last beyond the short term, there is no clear evidence to refute its use for people with schizophrenia. 

Schizophrenia Medication

Antipsychotic medication is the most effective treatment for the symptoms of schizophrenia. It will help to stop symptoms including delusions and hallucinations. Medical researchers had theorized that these medications work by correcting the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. In fact, antipsychotic medications are effective in helping 4 out of 5 people who take them.

Side effects of antipsychotic medications are common and may include shakiness, slowness or sluggishness, abnormal movement of the tongue and jaw, and sexual problems. The medication can as well increase some of the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Consequently, antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to be taken with antipsychotic medications.

Schizophrenia treatment is usually most effective when started early. Keep in mind that it may take several weeks to see the medications’ full effect. Hence, therapies and medications when combined can make the treatment program more effective.

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First-Generation Antipsychotic Drugs

There are two groups of antipsychotics. Doctors call the older group of medications “first-generation,” “typical,” or “conventional” antipsychotics. 

While the first-generation, older meds usually cost less, they can have different side effects than the newer antipsychotics. Some can cause higher levels of the hormone prolactin. This can affect sex drive, mood, menstrual cycles, and growth of breast tissue in both men and women. [5]

One of the common side effects of many of the newer antipsychotics is weight gain. You may also have trouble keeping your blood sugar and cholesterol levels under control.

Be sure you see your doctor regularly while taking antipsychotic medication. And talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about side effects.

Schizophrenia Treatment
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Schizophrenia & Alcohol Addiction

According to U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, the comorbidity of schizophrenia and substance abuse has attracted increasing attention in the past years. Potential links, including genetic vulnerability, neurobiological aspects, side effects of medications, and psychosocial factors are being under discussion. The link between the use of substances and the development of psychoses is demonstrated by the high prevalence of substance abuse in schizophrenia. [6]

Co-Occurring Treatment

Drugs do not directly cause schizophrenia, but studies have shown drug misuse increases the risk of developing the disease or a similar illness.

Certain drugs, particularly marijuana, cocaine, LSD, or amphetamines, may trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in people who are at risk.

Using illegal stimulants like cocaine and crystal meth can lead to psychosis and can cause a relapse in individuals recovering from an earlier episode. 

Here at We Level Up NJ Treatment Center, all working as a team providing primary SUD treatment along with primary substance abuse and co-occurring secondary Schizophrenia treatment for successful recovery. We understand that long-term recovery does not come in a one-size-fits-all program. For this reason, each client, upon arrival at our drug treatment center, will undergo an extensive and comprehensive physical and psychological exam with our team of physicians, counselors, mental health specialists, spiritual advisers, and nutritionists. Together, we will determine what the client’s underlying issues are so we can then tailor-fit an individualized approach and, when appropriate, provide integrated dual-diagnosis treatment.

If you have questions regarding your diagnosis or want licensed guidance or therapy for schizophrenia treatment, please contact us.

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[1] – / – American Psychological Association
[2] – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
[3] Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
[4] Electroconvulsive therapy for schizophrenia –
[6] – National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
[7] We Level Up FL – Schizophrenia Causes