One in every 100 South Africans is impacted by schizophrenia. Treating this disorder remains a challenge due to the complexities of schizophrenia symptoms. Depending on the symptoms and the severity of the person’s diagnosis, healthcare professionals may recommend daily, oral medication, or long-term injectables.
Symptoms of schizophrenia
Symptoms of schizophrenia affect the day-to-day lives of people living with the disorder and treatment is an ongoing requirement, especially where a person shows severe symptoms that may include positive and negative symptoms (1).
Called positive symptoms, they are highly exaggerated ideas and perceptions experienced by a person diagnosed with schizophrenia and include:
- Delusional behaviour
- Disorganized thinking and speech
- Extremely disorganized or abnormal motor behaviour that may present itself in numerous ways and may include behavioural abnormalities such as childlike silliness or unpredictable agitation.
- Resistance to instructions
- Inappropriate or bizarre posture
- Complete lack of response
- Useless or excessive movement patterns
Called negative symptoms because the person diagnosed lacks normal, mental functions such as:
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Lack of emotion
- Lack of expression
- Loss of interest in daily activities
Treating schizophrenia the right way
Symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, which is why it’s so important to seek help from a healthcare professional. Some treatment options recommended by healthcare professionals may include:
1. Daily medication
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a healthcare professional will recommend daily or oral medication, which will be an effective symptom management solution. The disadvantages include:
- The person may be reluctant to take daily medication, which could result in their symptoms becoming more aggressive.
- They may quit the medication once symptoms lessen, believing they no longer require treatment. This may cause symptoms to reappear with a higher frequency.
2. Monthly injectables
Monthly injectables are administered by a healthcare professional and are effective in managing symptoms of schizophrenia
for longer periods. The advantages of injectables include:
- Healthcare professionals track the progress of treatment and symptom management.
- By managing symptoms for up to 30 days, it reduces the possibility of a person resisting treatment and relapsing to symptoms that may result in self-harm.
3. Talk therapy
Therapy sessions work hand-in-hand with medication and give the psychologist an opportunity to accurately assess symptoms. Should the symptoms become more aggressive, the supporting psychiatrist may recommend a higher dosage of medication. Other benefits include:
- A psychologist addresses the symptoms with a person, educating them on how to manage delusional thoughts and hallucinations.
- Medical professionals report a higher recovery rate with effective symptom management.
Schizophrenia treatment options have come a long way thanks to research and development from pharmaceutical companies. Each treatment option works differently, for different people, which is why a support system and complementary therapy are necessary. To truly help someone living with schizophrenia, caregivers should have a good understanding of the disorder and how to better impact positive change in the lives of their loved ones living with schizophrenia.
To learn more about schizophrenia and how you can help someone that may be living with the condition, visit schizophrenia24x7 and join Our Mental Health group on Facebook for advice, tips, and how best to help someone living with schizophrenia.