Schizophrenia is a psychological disorder that is accompanied by hallucinations and delusions. It’s a very serious illness that affects a person’s emotions, brain, relationships, and decision making. Since the hallucinations and delusions feel as real as the world around us, a person with schizophrenia can sometimes have problems while distinguishing present reality from the hallucinated version that their brain fosters.
The traditional treatment for schizophrenia often involves high doses of anti-psychotic medications which are effective but usually accompany unpleasant side effects like weight gain, exhaustion and emotional numbing. However a lot of patients go towards therapy too.
Due to this, almost every one fourth person with schizophrenia stops taking medications within the first year. Apart from medications, people with schizophrenia may also benefit from some form of psychotherapy or a social support treatment.
Treatment for schizophrenia without medication
Even though psycho-therapeutic interventions are found to help in managing symptoms of schizophrenia that exist despite the medications, it’s important to understand you will find more than one type of therapy to help treat the disorder. Here are five ways schizophrenia can be manages through therapy.
Regularly scheduled talks between a schizophrenic patient and a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist or a psychologist is called individual psychotherapy. The sessions are most effective if attended on a regular basis and may focus on the present or past thoughts, feelings, experiences or relationships.
After sharing experiences with a trained and unbiased emphatic person and discussing world with someone completely unknown to it, people with schizophrenia may eventually come to know more about themselves and understand their problems. They can also find a way to sort out the reality from the fake and distorted world which their disorder imposes.
Support groups assist people with schizophrenia. Every soul in the group offers each other emotional support, advice, and acceptance. To challenge stigma and to improve the lives of all people who have mental disorders, some groups also get involved in advocacy efforts.
By interacting with other schizophrenics about your symptoms, and sharing views on mental illness aids, one can help feel better as they are not alone and perhaps may also gain further understanding on managing their illness.
Self-help in other forms can also be important. Pursuing strategies like changing your diet, relieving stress, and seeking social support may not seem like an effective tool against fighting such a challenging disorder, but they do have a profound effect on the severity and frequency of the symptoms, and may also improve one’s mood and boost their self-esteem.
Social skills training
Social skills training uses the basics of behavior therapy to teach skills like communication, assertiveness and others related to management of disease and independent living. They are broken down into various discrete steps. On reviewing the steps, a therapist models the skill by demonstrating through role play.
SST is often implemented in small groups, led by two co-therapists who then do role-plays to practice and learn skills. Therapists and the members provide constructive feedback to the individual after each role play and each one is given an opportunity to practice the proposed skill several times. Repeatedly practicing and over-learning skills are important aspects of SST.
Psycho-social rehabilitation focuses on socially vocational training. Members learn skills they need for interaction with others, living in a community, and getting and keeping a job. For example, someone can learn about applying for a job, using public transportation, managing budget money, and keeping track of appointments.
Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
Actions and thoughts that are potentially harmful like destructive behavior and beliefs, may have develop as early as in childhood and early adolescence. In CBT, a psychotherapist helps a person change such views. Cognition refers to thought patterns. A therapist can help schizophrenic people transform their destructive and negative patterns into more positive and healthier beliefs.
CBT hinges itself on first setting goals, then striving for them, and finally obtaining a measure of confidence and self awareness in order to progress and eventually succeed in therapy and later in life.
The first step should be to get help
Even though currently there is no such cure for schizophrenia, but the illness can be successfully managed and treated both through therapy and supplemented with medicine. The key is to have a strong support system in place and get the right timely treatment for your needs.
That said, the first step of seeking help is often the most difficult. Many times a person with schizophrenia doesn’t think that there is anything is wrong. They don’t recognize their behaviors and thoughts as out of the ordinary or bizarre. Some people with the disorder fear that they’ll be labeled negatively or fear stigma if they seek medical help.
Many people find it beneficial to start with a mental disorder professional to begin the process. Such specialists are trained to identify the symptoms of schizophrenia and come to an accurate diagnosis, ruling out other possible disorders, or problems that might be causing the symptoms.