Treatments for schizophrenia

There is no cure for schizophrenia, however, with the right treatment, it’s possible to limit symptoms and reduce chances of further episodes.

Everyone’s experience of schizophrenia is different. It may get better or worse, you may have episodes of being unwell, or its effects may be more constant. Up to 3 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.

Medication

Your doctor may offer you antipsychotic medications. These help to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but will not cure it. You should work with your doctor to find the best medication for you. A carer or family member can also help decide.

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 something else. It’s important not to stop suddenly as this can cause withdrawal symptoms. You should review your medication with your doctor at least once a year.

Talking therapies

Talking therapies, sometimes referred to as psychosocial treatments, help you to look at your thoughts and behaviours.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT looks at how your thoughts and feelings affect your actions, and how they may be causing difficulties. It will help you to change negative thinking patterns and recognise when you’re becoming unwell. CBT can help you manage your feelings and symptoms better.

Arts therapies

Creative activities such as art, music, drama or dance help you to express yourself in a therapeutic environment with a trained therapist. These types of therapies are often helpful if you find it difficult to talk.

Family intervention

This type of talking treatment involves your family or carers. It helps work out ways to support you best, coping and solving problems together. You don’t have to be there if you prefer not to be.

Self-care

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 ways you can manage your symptoms yourself such as:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Relationships
  • 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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