Antipsychotic medications have been available since the 1950s and have greatly improved the outlook for patients.
These earlier antipsychotic drugs are often very effective in treating certain symptoms of Schizophrenia, particularly hallucinations and delusions. Unfortunately, these drugs may not be as helpful with other symptoms, such as reduced motivation and emotional expressiveness. At the same time, these older antipsychotics frequently produce disabling side-effects, which adds to the stigma associated with Schizophrenia.
Since 1990, a number of new antipsychotic drugs, the so-called “atypical antipsychotics”, have been introduced and these have revolutionised the treatment of Schizophrenia.
These fewer medications treat all the symptoms of Schizophrenia equally well and at the same time posses a lower propensity to cause the disabling side effects that are associated with the older drugs, allowing patients to stay well, functioning more effectively and appropriately.
The outlook for sufferers has improved greatly in the last few decades and many people can be treated outside hospital and live within the community for most of their lives.
When someone is first diagnosed as suffering fromm Schizophrenia, they are usually treated in hospital, but many people can then have treatment at home, particularly if they have a supportive family.
In addition anti-psychotic medicines are available to treat the worst symptoms of the illness, such as hallucinations, but there is no “cure” at present.
In addition to medical treatment, support from family, friends and healthcare services is also a vital part of theraphy.
It is crucial to remember that psychosocial treatment is just as important as medication in treating someone with Schizophrenia. Even when patients with Schizophrenia are free of psychotic symptoms, many still have difficulty with communication, motivation, self-care and relationship with others.
Moreover, because patients with Schizophrenia frequently become ill during the critical career-forming years of life (for example, ages 18 to 35), they are less likely to complete the trainign required for skilled work. As a result, many with Schizophrenia not only suffer thinking and emotional difficulties, but lack social and work skills and experience as well.
It is with these psychological, social and occupational problems that psychosocial treatments can help the most. Numerous forms of psychosocial theraphy are available, and most focus on improving the patient´s social functioning, whether in the hospital or community, at home, or on the job.