While there is no cure for schizophrenia at the moment, symptoms can be treated. Treatment for schizophrenia typically involves medication first in order to control symptoms, which is followed by a rehabilitation program. When treated successfully, schizophrenic patients can experience a decrease in the severity and frequency of symptoms. Patients are encouraged to learn how to identify warning signs of schizophrenic symptoms, and can cope better emotionally.
Although schizophrenia is a severe, chronic disorder, many schizophrenics are able to live healthy, productive lives with the help of medication and counseling. One challenge may be the initial series of visits to the doctor, and the adherence to a medication schedule. However, with proper and regular medication, a person diagnosed with schizophrenia will be in a far more stable position to begin counseling treatment, and have a greater chance to live a relatively normal life.
Medication for schizophrenia is called "antipsychotic medication", and has been available for approximately 50 years. The older types of drugs had side effects such as rigidity, restlessness, and tremors. However, newer antipsychotic medications, called "atypical antipsychotics", normally do not produce these same side effects.
Once doctors and patients identify the most appropriate antipsychotic medication, significant improvements can be seen within 6 weeks, with hallucinations improving within days. However, because schizophrenics tend to smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol in excess, and abuse drugs, the appropriate amount of medication may need to be adjusted in accordance to drug treatment programs. Nicotine, for example, greatly interferes with the effectiveness of some antipsychotic medication.
An additional complication to using medications is that schizophrenics may also need to be treated for depression, thus adding another layer of complexity in finding the appropriate mix of medication to treat the patient. Medication should not be stopped or altered without a doctor's recommendation. This may be a challenge for family members of schizophrenics who resist treatment initially.
Rehabilitations programs help schizophrenics learn healthy ways to cope with stress, find employment, socialize, clean, cook, and gain new skills for employment. Because of the need to not just control symptoms, but also to learn or relearn culturally-appropriate behaviors or daily tasks, enrollment in psychosocial rehabilitation programs are important. Also, support groups may exist to provide help from people who are coping with schizophrenia themselves.
Despite electroconvulsive therapy's reputation as an unsettling and disturbing way to treat mental disorders, much has changed since when it was first put to use. Now, precise and calculated amounts of electricity are applied under anesthesia in order to treat a variety of mental disorders. Regarding schizophrenia, electroconvulsive therapy may be used when other treatment options prove ineffective. There are risks-such as memory loss and cognitive impairment. The benefits and minuses must be weighed carefully with the doctor for this type of treatment.
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