There is no cure for schizophrenia, but with the right treatment, it’s possible to limit symptoms and reduce the chances of further episodes.
Everyone’s experience of schizophrenia is different. It may become better before worsening, you may have episodes of being unwell, or its effects may be more constant.
Up to 1 in 10 people may have a lasting recovery, and 1 in 5 may have significant improvement. Around half of people diagnosed with schizophrenia will continue to manage it as a long-term illness.
The most common treatment for schizophrenia is medication and talking therapies.
Your doctor may offer you antipsychotic medications to treat schizophrenia. These help to reduce the symptoms, but will not cure it.
You should work with your doctor to find the best medication for you. If you prefer, carer or family member can also help decide.
Doctors should explain the benefits and side effects of each drug. If the side effects of the medication are too difficult to cope with after trialling it for a few weeks, you can speak to your doctor about trying other medication. It’s important not to stop suddenly as this can cause withdrawal symptoms.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advise that people who’ve not responded to at least two other antipsychotic drugs should be offered clozapine.
You should review your medication with your doctor at least once a year.
Talking therapies, sometimes referred to as psychosocial treatments, help you to look at your thoughts and behaviours.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)
CBT aims to help you understand links between your thoughts, feeling and actions. CBT will look at your symptoms and how they affect your life, and also at your perceptions and beliefs. CBT improves awareness of your episodes and gives you ways of coping with stress and other symptoms.
Art therapy can help you learn new ways of relating to other people, show how you are feeling, accept your feelings, and understand your feelings. If your psychosis reoccurs, art therapy should be considered.
Arts therapy may be more useful if you have depressive symptoms such as withdrawing from family and friends, as it usually takes place with a group to help combine communication with creativity.
Family Intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships. This should be offered to people who you live with or who you are in close contact with. The support that you and your family are given will depend on what problems there are and what preferences you all have. This could be group family sessions or individual sessions.
Early intervention teams
Early intervention teams are specialist NHS services which provide support to people when they first experiencing schizophrenia. You may meet with psychiatrists, psychologists, specialist nurses and support workers.
Self-care and management skills can help you to understand and overcome symptoms of schizophrenia.
Your health or social worker may offer to support you with self-management. Or you may be offered peer support from other people who have schizophrenia.
Self-care focuses on:
- Daily routines
- Taking medication
- Recognising your triggers and when you’re becoming unwell
- Maintaining recovery
- What to do in a crisis and where to get help
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