Schizophrenia treatment involves medications and therapy to reduce complaints and reduce the risk of future psychotic episodes. Treatment with medications and psycho-social therapy can help in good management of the overall condition. Medications are more effective in controlling positive symptoms. They are not as effective in controlling negative symptoms. They may cause some side-effects of their own. 

Anti-psychotic medications 

These are the most commonly prescribed drugs to treat schizophrenia. They're thought to control symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin.

• Typical anti psychotics include Chlorpromazine, Fluphenazine, Haloperidol (Haldol), Perphenazine

• Atypical anti psychotics include Aripiprazole (Abilify), Asenapine (Saphris), Clozapine(Clozaril), Iloperidone (Fanapt), Lurasidone (Latuda), Olanzapine (Zyprexa),Paliperidone (Invega), Quetiapine (Seroquel), Risperidone (Risperdal),Ziprasidone (Geodon). 

Psycho-social interventions      

Individual therapy – This can help in learning about sickness, learning to cope with stress and identify early warning signs of relapse can help people with schizophrenia manage their life and illness.

• Social skills training - This helps in improving communication and social interactions.

• Family therapy - This helps in giving support and education to families dealing with schizophrenia.

• Vocational rehabilitation - This helps people with schizophrenia in preparing for jobs and also finding and managing jobs. 

Holistic Management  

This includes counselling, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, nutritional therapy, acupuncture and homeopathy. It is very helpful in both acute and long term management. Schizophrenia is a condition that severely affects patient and in turn entire family. It requires judicial approach for effective and long lasting management. One can make good use of treatment options to manage condition and improve overall life.·        

Know about it – First thing first. Know about schizophrenia. This will make patient and entire family at ease. It is not black magic or spiritual illness. It is a medical condition and is treatable.·        

Know about treatment options – Know about conventional medicines, acupuncture, homeopathy, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, dietetics, yoga, meditation and tai-chi.·        

Plan well – Be realistic and plan well.Do not lose hope. Define realistic goals and attain them. ·        

Family Counselling – Family must understand the condition and how to play effective role in managing the condition. ·       

Life management – Long term life management is crucial.  Issues like overall health, finance, relationships & socialization, time management, recreation etc must be discussed and defined. ·        

Support – One can look for support by joining support groups or other activity groups. Motivation is key factor in long term management.  Counselling for Schizophrenia - Human interaction plays a crucial role in treatment of schizophrenia. Confidence and trust on therapist lay foundation for recovery. Counselling and relationship with therapist can take many forms. In counselling, patients learn about their illness, about life skills and ways to avoid a relapse. Counselling can take place one-to-one or group setting. It helps to improve relationships, deal with symptoms, live a better life and meet goals. Group counselling helps in learning social skills. Counselling can help in understanding of self, own thoughts and correction of thoughts and behaviour. 

Social Skills Training - Social skill training helps in improving communication and social interactions. Person can learn behaviour techniques and life skills that will help in social interactions and living better relationships.  This in turn reduces frustration and improves adjustment in life. 

Cognitive Remediation - Cognition or thinking pattern is one core of complaints. It includes repetitive cognitive tasks, compensatory strategies, learning techniques, instructions, positive reinforcement and rewards. Therapy goes from simple component to more complex. 

Psychotherapy for Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia often have a difficulty in performing ordinary life skills such as self care and conversation. Psychotherapy can help in regaining confidence and live a better life.

• Individual therapy -  In one to one therapy patient can learn to cope with stress, managing daily life and identify early warning signs of relapse which can help people with schizophrenia manage their illness.

• Group therapy – Group therapy can serve two purpose. One as support group helps in motivation. It gives confidence and better understanding of illness. Second it can help in learning how to manage life, relationships, work etc. It also improves treatment compliance. Group therapy can be helpful in decreasing social isolation.

• Family therapy - Education of family is crucial in total illness management. Family gets better understanding, stress levels go down and there is renewed hope for future. It helps in planning and long term management of illness. Family care may improve outcome of treatment.

• Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT can help in improving attention and thinking pattern. This can be an effective therapy to manage stress, motivation, issues such as anxiety and depression. This can help in improving day to day life quality.  

Hypnotherapy for Schizophrenia 

Many complaints of schizophrenia do not respond to medication. If there is no physical brain damage then schizophrenia can be successfully treated with clinical hypnotherapy. It works at the subconscious level. Hypnotherapy can have effect on thinking process, emotions and behavior. Schizophrenic covers several aspects of a person’s life. All these issue must be addressed. Some of the common hypnotherapy methods such as hypnotic suggestions, psycho-strengthening imagery, projective restructuring, neutralization of affect have been used and found effective. Once a detailed assessment is done, therapist will shortlist complaints and will then design therapy strategy. First part of it is goal setting. Sessions can be designed based on symptoms and condition. It could be frequent sessions or weekly depending on state and need. Effect of hypnotherapy both as therapy itself and as complimentary therapy is helpful in acute and long term management.                                            

Homeopathy for Schizophrenia

Homeopathic psychiatry is one of the most promising medical fields today. Homeopathic medicine is employed as an important part of therapy for severe mental illness including schizophrenia and others like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, phobias, memory disorders etc. Homeopathy is a system of medicine which stimulates the body to heal itself. When homeopathic medicines are prescribed properly, they work quickly to alleviate symptoms and improve overall health both mental and physical. Advantages of homeopathic medicines are:         

  • Safe         
  • No side effects      
  • Quick acting
  • Helps in both acute attacks and long term relief
  • Helps in both positive and negative symptoms 

The homeopathic medicines person specific and are selected after a full individualizing case analysis, which includes the medical history of the patient and physical and mental symptoms. Homeopathic medicines are selected on the basis of symptoms, cause, family history and other conditions of the person affected. Homeopathic treatment does not end with prescription of medicine. Doctor will have careful watch on case and will change medicine based on condition. 

Acupuncture for Schizophrenia Treatment 

Acupuncture is effective in treatment of schizophrenia. Acupuncture improves both positive and negative symptoms,  energy levels, sleep, physical disorders and motivation.  The acupuncture done at two to three time per week for 10 –20 weeks can help in decrease in auditory, visual and tactile hallucinations, decrease in anxiety and paranoia and improvement in sleep with calm mind. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) differential diagnosis system evaluates patients on the basis of disturbance of elements. This is then further classified as excess or deficiency of heat, phlegm etc.  The ultimate result is disturbance of energy Qi. This can be combined with liver Qi depression and qi stagnation, blood deficiency, qi stagnation, blood deficiency of the heart and liver, liver fire rising upward with rising liver yang, kidney yin deficiency and phlegm fire affecting the mind,  kidney and spleen deficiency with dampness and non-interaction between the heart and kidney and heart fire. 

Types of psychosis:

1. Depressive psychosis - It has Phlegm and Qi stagnation. It shows mental dullness, low mood or mood swings, excessive sleepiness, white greasy tongue and wiry slippery pulse.

2. Manic psychosis - It has Flaring up of phlegm fire. It shows sudden onset, aggression, headache, sleeplessness, restlessness, excess activity, red greasy tongue, rapid pulse. 

Points for depressive psychosis: Ht7  PC 7 Du 20  UB 15  Heartshu point   L.I. 4  and Liv 3 UB 18  Liver shu point Ren 17  St 40  Sp 6 UB 20  Spleen shu. For Manic Psychosis: Du14  PC 8 Ht 8  Liv 2  Du 26  Du20, Du 16 PC 6  Ren6, Ren 12, Stomach 25, St40 Luo connecting point  

Nutritional factors of Schizophrenia

Nutrition plays big role in every sickness. Everybody cell including brain cells are made of essential nutrients. New research states that many ailments have nutritional deficiencies as major factor. Schizophrenic patients have much lower levels of fatty acids in the frontal cortex of the brain. Nutrition for schizophrenia ensures elimination of nutritional deficiencies, which may trigger some of the symptoms. Moreover, prolonged intake of medication may cause side effects like weight gain and other complaints. It is necessary to maintain a food balance and have essential nutrients for brain function. 

Foods to include in diet

  • Seeds and nuts for healthy fatty acids
  • Healthy carbohydrates from whole grain products
  • Essential nutrients from green leafy vegetables and fruits
  • Vitamins such as Vitamin A, B, C, D and E, Niacin and Folic Acid, antioxidants and essential minerals such as copper, iron, zinc and iodine to enable neurotransmitter balance and proper functions   
  • Omega 3 fatty acids

Foods to avoid

  • Avoid sugar and food with low glycemic index
  • Avoid processed or refined food products
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and nicotine 

Schizophrenia is treatable. Do not feel sad or hopeless about it!