Talk therapy and medication – a powerful combination for people wrestling with schizophrenia

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 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.

Positive symptoms

Called positive symptoms as they are highly exaggerated ideas and perceptions experienced by a person diagnosed with schizophrenia and include,

  • Delusional behaviour
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganised thinking and speech
  • Extremely disorganised 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
Negative symptoms

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

The 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 symptoms, a healthcare professional will recommend daily, 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 their 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 session work hand-in-hand with medication, and gives 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,4

  • A psychologist addresses the symptoms with a person, educating them 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 is 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.5 To learn more about schizophrenia and how you can help someone that may be living with schizophrenia, join Our Mental Health group on Facebook for advice, tips and how best to help someone living with schizophrenia.