Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric illness that has an altered perception of reality that affects the way a person’s thought, act and to see the real world. They may see or hear things that don’t exist, speak in strange or confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them or feel like they’re being constantly watched. With an unclear line between the real and imaginary, people with schizophrenia may withdraw from the outside world or act out in confusion and fear.
The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia differ from person to person in pattern and severity. Every person with schizophrenia may not have all symptoms; the same may also change over a period of time.
Although schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, we treat this very professionally in our Hospital. With the support of medication & therapy; many people with schizophrenia are able to function independently and live a satisfying and fulfilling life.
Diagnosis of schizophrenia involves ruling out other mental health disorders and determining that symptoms are not due to substance abuse, medication or a medical condition. Determining a diagnosis of schizophrenia may include:
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.
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.
Medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, and antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs. They’re thought to control symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitter dopamine.
The goal of treatment with antipsychotic medications is to effectively manage signs and symptoms at the lowest possible dose. The psychiatrist may try different drugs, different doses or combinations over time to achieve the desired result. Other medications also may help, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. It can take several weeks to notice an improvement in symptoms.
Because medications for schizophrenia can cause serious side effects, people with schizophrenia may be reluctant to take them. Willingness to cooperate with treatment may affect drug choice. For example, someone who is resistant to taking medication consistently may need to be given injections instead of taking a pill.
Once psychosis recedes, in addition to continuing on medication, psychological and social (psychosocial) interventions are important. These may include:
During crisis periods or times of severe symptoms, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and basic hygiene.
For adults with schizophrenia who do not respond to drug therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) may be considered. ECT may be helpful for someone who also has depression.
Coping with a mental disorder as serious as schizophrenia can be challenging, both for the person with the condition and for friends and family. Here are some ways to cope: