What Therapies are Used to Treat Schizophrenia? Understanding Potential Recovery Tools
If you know or suspect your loved one is suffering from schizophrenia, it’s important to get them the help they need as soon as possible. Learn what therapies are used to treat schizophrenia and how they can help your loved one lead a healthy, happy, independent life. Remember: a schizophrenia diagnosis does not mean your loved one is beyond help, or hope—and residential treatment is the best place for you and your loved one to find both.
Jake and Erin are deeply in love but share a rocky past. Jake was a creative, charismatic guy, but he could be emotionally unstable and a bit eccentric. Erin felt like one minute he adored her, and didn’t trust her the next. After they married, things got worse. He told her he could hear her thoughts and that she was thinking about cheating on him. She told him this was impossible because no one can hear thoughts, but he insisted that he could. Jake claimed he heard Erin say she was leaving him for a guy she’d met online. When he told her this Erin was shocked—she’d never said anything of the sort.
It was becoming clearer and clearer to Erin that her husband was having auditory hallucinations. But that wasn’t all. When he talked, he moved from one subject to another. Sometimes his sentences made no sense. Erin had learned about schizophrenia in an elective college psychology class, and recognizing the symptoms as they began to pile up, she wondered: Was her husband schizophrenic? He certainly needed help; that she knew beyond a shadow of a doubt. But she had no idea where to begin. She tried to remember: What therapies are used to treat schizophrenia? What options would give her husband his best chance at getting better?
Treating Schizophrenia: What Therapies are Used Today?
Schizophrenia is a rare, chronic mental health disorder that affects the way people think, act, relate to others, show emotions, and even perceive reality. Its symptoms can make it hard for people to live a “regular” life, as they may face delusions, hallucinations, become catatonic (irresponsive), or have trouble thinking and speaking clearly. Of course, these symptoms are not only alarming for sufferers, but for their partners and family members too.
If your loved one suffers from schizophrenia, know that there are effective treatments that can help them, and you. While schizophrenia will always be a part of the picture of your lives, with dedicated therapy and medication, it doesn’t have to be the central focus of that picture.
Psychiatric medications play a large role in treating schizophrenia. Prescribed and overseen by a psychiatrist, they affect the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system to help override the effects of schizophrenia. By reducing some of the symptoms, they can help your loved one focus on their recovery work in therapy.
The medications most commonly prescribed for schizophrenia are generally antipsychotics, which reduce psychotic symptoms like delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, or disordered thought. Additional medications may be prescribed to treat other co-occurring conditions, such as mood-stabilizing, antidepressant, antianxiety, or anti-tremor drugs. A psychiatrist will prescribe medications and adjust their dosage until they discover the best combination that helps your loved one live and function better. This will take time, but eventually, your loved one should fall into a regular medication schedule and will have checkups with their psychiatrist less often.
The other major cornerstone of treating schizophrenia is therapy, a lifelong endeavor your loved one will need to work into their regular routine. If the situation is severe, they may see a therapist for one-on-one counseling two or more times a week. Once their symptoms are controlled and they are functioning well with their disorder, they may drop down to once a week, perhaps even less in the future.
One-on-one counseling of schizophrenia often uses cognitive behavioral therapy to correct delusional thinking or other self-destructive thoughts. The therapist will ask your loved one to stop and think about their beliefs, using mindfulness-based therapies. The goal is to help them become aware of distorted ideas and beliefs not rooted in reality. But cognitive behavioral therapy must be administered along with antipsychotics, as those experiencing a psychotic episode have a very difficult time distinguishing rational and irrational cognitions. Family therapy, group therapy, and other holistic therapies are often included in a comprehensive treatment plan in order to more fully address all angles of your loved one’s disorder and symptoms.
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The Value of Residential Treatment for Schizophrenia
Research has shown that if intensive treatment is given as soon as schizophrenia is discovered, the afflicted will have much better long-term results—and the best place to achieve those results is in a residential mental health treatment facility. In a residential program, your loved one will work with a team of specialists to create their own personalized treatment plan, designed to help them work towards living a healthier, more independent life.
Family therapy and education, meanwhile, can help you understand what your loved one is going through—and how you can best support both their mental health and your own. It can help repair fractured family relationships and guide you and your loved one in learning to communicate better. A residential facility will also connect your loved one with peer support through venues such as group therapy, where they can talk with people who are facing similar challenges in their lives.
Erin, happily, found a residential treatment facility both she and Jake were comfortable with, and together they began to take one step at a time towards a fuller, more complete life together. Through a long-term, comprehensive treatment plan, Jake was accurately diagnosed with schizophrenia. Over time, he was able to regain some clarity and independence, while Erin was able to come to terms with her husband’s diagnosis and educated herself on how to give him the support he needed while still taking care of herself. Though Jake’s schizophrenia cannot be cured, they have found a way to both live with it and thrive in spite of it.
Whether your loved one is your spouse, your sibling, your parent, or your child, schizophrenia can be challenging to live with—both for them and for you. Know that neither of you are alone; help is just a phone call away. Call a residential treatment facility today to get started on the path to recovery.
BrightQuest is a long-term residential treatment center for schizophrenia and other co-occurring mental health and substance abuse use disorders. Contact us to learn more about our renowned program and how we can help you or your loved one begin the journey toward recovery.