Families and Friends
A Message for Caregivers
A Message for Teens
Arm Yourself with the Facts
Consequences of Stigma
Myths About Schizophrenia
What Causes Schizophrenia?
How the Brain Operates
The Course and Outcome
Stepping Stones to Recovery
The Stereotype of Violence
Schizophrenia at School,
Work, and in Relationships
Links to Other Resources
Myth / People with schizophrenia have to
Fact / Recent studies have shown that a variety
of settings, ranging from psychiatric hospital care to innovative alternatives,
such as an acute care residential facility, to supported living in the
community can be effective in caring for people with schizophrenia.
The Stepping Stones to Recovery / In general,
when inpatient and comprehensive outpatient programs are compared, people
in the community-based programs show better outcome for longer periods
of time than those treated in the hospital. Even people who are acutely
psychotic can be treated effectively in carefully supervised and professionally
staffed community settings.
There are three main components of treatment for schizophrenia:
- Medications to lessen symptoms and prevent relapse;
- Education to help patients and families solve problems, deal with
stress, and cope with the illness and its complications;
- Social rehabilitation to help patients reintegrate into the community
and regain educational or occupational functioning.
Medications / The drugs used to treat schizophrenia
are called anti-psychotic or neuroleptic drugs. There are two categories
of these drugs, the older neuroleptics and the new or atypical neuroleptics.
The older drugs (haloperidol and others) were introduced in the early
1950s. They relieved some of the positive symptoms but had severe
side effects such as muscle rigidity, tremors, involuntary writhing movements,
blurred vision and constipation. People taking these drugs had to take
a second drug to partially control the side effects. Unfortunately, the
second drug had side effects as well. Many patients refused to take medication
or took it irregularly because of the side effects. Another problem was
that the older drugs worked on the positive symptoms (hallucinations and
delusions) but not on the equally disabling negative symptoms (social
withdrawal, apathy, and blunted emotions.)
The new neuroleptics came into use during
the 1990s. They include risperidone, olanzapine, and clozapine. These
drugs have less severe (though still unpleasant) side effects, and they
may work on the negative as well as the positive symptoms.
Education is key / Because the impact of
schizophrenia is felt in so many areas of life, effective treatment must
address multiple problems, including early recognition of when a relapse
may occur, how to prevent relapses, as well as psychoeducation into how
to reduce stress. People with schizophrenia fare best when they have information
on the disorder, treatment options, its side effects, and strategies to
cope with persistent symptoms.
People with schizophrenia benefit when
medical professionals work with the patient to find the method of treatment
most suited to that individual. From the ill persons perspective,
continuity of care is important in treatment. In addition, recipients
of care are best served when they have a voice in their treatment.
Rehabilitation: Improving quality of life / In
recent years, there have been changes in the goals of rehabilitation of
persons with mental disorders. In the past, the primary emphasis was placed
on returning the individual to work. It has now been accepted that there
are many other equally important goals of the rehabilitive process:
- To reduce symptoms that people experience through the use of drug
- To reduce adverse consequences of the illness;
- To improve the individuals social competence;
- To increase family and social support in the areas of employment,
housing, and socialization.