Schizophrenia medication is the key mental health treatment for people with this serious mental health disorder, with antipsychotic medications being the most commonly prescribed drugs. Medication for this disorder can be complex, as there are different types of medications, each with its own side effects. Every person reacts differently to each medication, and it can take several weeks for a noticeable improvement, making it a complex disorder to treat. Regular check-ins and psychiatrist visits are imperative. Because schizophrenia is a life-long disorder, there is no cure, but treatment options for Schizophrenia can help.
Understanding Antipsychotic Drugs
The Mayo Clinic states that antipsychotic drugs affect dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain, which can control symptoms of schizophrenia. The goal is to manage the symptoms of this mental health issue while administering the lowest possible dose to minimize side effects. These medications may be given as a pill or in liquid form, or they may be given as injections once or twice per month.
The Primary Drugs for Schizophrenia Treatment
If you have wondered, “What is the main drug used to treat schizophrenia?” The answer may vary depending on where you live. In the US, the most commonly prescribed medications for this condition are:
- First-generation (typical) antipsychotic medications that block dopamine (chlorpromazine, flupenthixol, fluphenazine, haloperidol, loxapine, perphenazine, pimozide, thiothixene, trifluoperazine, and zuclopenthixol)
- Second-generation (atypical) antipsychotic medications that block dopamine but also affect serotonin levels and produce milder movement-related side effects like twitching or tics (risperidone, quetiapine, olanzapine, ziprasidone, paliperidone, aripiprazole, and clozapine).
Side Effects to Watch For
Some of the side effects of antipsychotics for schizophrenia may include:
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Weight gain
- Emotional blunting
- Stuffy nose
- Breast tenderness or discharge
- Sedation or low-energy
- Decreased sex drive
- Missed periods
- Seizures (rarely)
Tell your doctor if these side effects begin to affect your life negatively; they may be able to change your dosage or move you to a new medication in some cases.
Emerging and Latest Treatments
The National Institute of Health has stated that three new medications, cariprazine, brexpiprazole, and brilaroxazine, are the new, exciting medications that will soon be available to people with schizophrenia. Along with cognitive behavioral therapy, individual psychotherapy, and cognitive enhancement therapy, these medications can help millions of Americans live more fulfilling, peaceful lives.
Innovations in Schizophrenia Care
The latest treatment for schizophrenia this year is still in clinical trials. It is called brilaroxazine, a dopamine-serotonin stabilizer that shows great promise. It is expected to treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, like emotional withdrawal, anxiety, apathy, and disorientation, along with other symptoms. While this medication is not on shelves yet, it could make very positive changes for people in the near future.
Beyond Pharmaceuticals: Natural Remedies and Diet
Many people with mental health disorders are also found to have unhealthy diets, leading to further issues with their health, like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Supplements and diet changes should not be used as a replacement for medication, but they can help a person feel better overall.
The Diet and Schizophrenia Connection
Schizophrenia symptoms can be positively affected or even alleviated by diet in some cases. For example, people who ate moderate amounts of fish, nuts, and flax seed showed fewer signs of psychosis, according to a study on long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Some other symptoms of schizophrenia cured by diet in some individuals include:
- Anti-inflammatory foods treat the severity of symptoms like disorganized behavior, hallucinations, and delusions
- Lentils can supply tryptophan, promoting mood and behavior regulation.
- High-fiber, filling foods to help curb overeating and weight gain.
- Berries and foods with antioxidants to help prevent the development of diabetes.
- Eggs, milk, and yogurt supply vitamin B12 to reduce symptoms.
Natural Supplements as Antipsychotic Aids
Natural antipsychotic supplements can aid people with schizophrenia in several ways. Some natural supplements and foods, including certain amino acids (D-alanine and D-serine), can help with memory and learning. Melatonin might help some people reduce medication side effects like weight gain, insomnia, and high blood pressure, and antioxidants like N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) can help improve symptoms by encouraging cell survival and healing inflammation.
Foods with Antipsychotic Properties
Most commonly utilized natural antipsychotic foods include nuts, seeds, seafood, beans, oats, sweet corn, eggs, dairy, bran, and whole grains. These foods can help ease symptoms of schizophrenia and work great with therapy and prescription antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia. Still, they should not be used as a replacement for medical care and prescription medications.
Making Informed Decisions About Treatment
The first step in schizophrenia treatment is getting a proper diagnosis from a doctor. They will perform a physical health exam and lab tests to help rule out any physical problems causing your symptoms. They will also do a psychological evaluation to learn more about your symptoms, thoughts, feelings, and behavior patterns.
Personalized treatment is imperative for schizophrenia because every person is unique and will require a combination of therapy, medications, natural remedies, and other treatments. The right balance of each is different for everybody, so staying informed and attending regular consultations are important to make adjustments as necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia Medication:
How do I know which schizophrenia medication is right for me?
There are many different types of schizophrenia medications on the market, and your doctor can guide you toward the medications they believe are right for you. Sometimes, it can take some time to find the right medication, as each person will experience different levels of side effects from each medication.
Are there any long-term side effects of antipsychotic drugs?
Yes, there can be. Some possible long-term side effects include anhedonia, weight gain, metabolic syndrome, low blood sodium, hyperglycemia, gynecomastia, diabetes, cognitive dysfunction, and neuroleptic-induced deficit syndrome. You are not guaranteed to develop these conditions, but taking prescription antipsychotic medications is not completely without the possibility of side effects. This is why frequent check-ins with your doctor are important.
How long does it typically take for schizophrenia medication to work?
For most people, improvements will be noticeable within six weeks, but it can be much quicker for some. You may notice delusional thoughts and hallucinations are almost immediately reduced, sometimes within a few days.
Can changes in diet replace the need for medication?
No, but healthy eating and proper nutrition can be an excellent addition to medical care and medication.
Are natural antipsychotic supplements safe to use with prescribed drugs?
They may be, but it is important to always consult your doctor before mixing natural supplements with prescription medications to avoid adverse or dangerous reactions.
What are the most common natural antipsychotic foods?
According to schizophrenia.com, the most common natural antipsychotic foods are nuts, seeds, seafood, beans, oats, sweet corn, eggs, dairy, bran, and whole grains.
How often should someone with schizophrenia consult with their psychiatrist about medication?
The Mayo Clinic suggests that people with schizophrenia should check in with their psychiatrist regularly. It is a life-long brain disorder that requires ongoing monitoring, even if symptoms are not currently present. Many patients will receive day-to-day support or will stay in an assisted living facility, but it will depend on your individual case.