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Treatments for Schizophrenia

The following treatment guidelines are meant as a reference tool only, and are not intended as treatment advice or to replace the clinical decision-making process of psychiatrists or other health professionals who administer these treatments. In clinical practice there are often good reasons why treatment approaches differ from what is described here.

 

There is no cure for Schizophrenia, but there are treatments that are helpful to reduce the person's symptoms and improve their quality of life.  

Starting treatment as soon as possible after the symptoms of Schizophrenia begin seems to improve the long-term outcome of this condition, and to increase the chances that the person can recover fully [ref].

Furthermore, because Schizophrenia is a life-long disorder, treatments need to be followed on an on-going basis.  Studies have shown that individuals with this condition who stop their medications too soon (ie. after less than a year) have a signiciantly higher risk of relapsing compared with those who continue their medications [ref].

Medications for Schizophrenia

Traditionally, medications have been viewed as the principal means of treating Schizophrenia.   Studies have shown that without taking medication, a person who recovers from the active phase of Schizophrenia has an 80% chance of relapsing back into the active phase within one year and a 90% chance after two years [ref]. 

However, even when a person does take their medications as prescribed, they still have a 40% chance of relapsing into the active phase within one year, and an 80% chance of relapsing within five years [ref, ref].   Furthermore, none of the medications currently available are very successful at treating negative symptoms or cognitive deficits, which cause the greatest amount of disability in Schizophrenia.  As many as three-quarters of patients with Schizophrenia will discontinue their medications because of side-effects, inefficacy, or other reasons [ref].  

Psychosocial Treatments for Schizophrenia

For these reasons, psychosocial treatments are also very important in the management of Schizophrenia [ref].  These include:

It should be noted that all of these treatment approaches have been studied in people who were also taking medication.

Probably all individuals with Schizophrenia should receive at least psychoeducation and case-management as part of a basic treatment plan. 

Treatment Guidelines of Schizophrenia

For specific recommendations on when and how to use these various treatment options, see the guidelines for:

 

Violent Behavior

Psychoeducation