Treatment for Schizophrenia

• Schizophrenia is a disease that is managed rather than cured. Although it may be effectively treated with medication and help from many quarters, it is usually a chronic disorder and the risk of a relapse is always present. After a first about of a schizophrenic illness, many people will be unable to pursue the job they were doing at a high level and many are at risk of becoming less functionally able than they were.
• Although family and friends are the first to realize that the person has a mental problem, the sufferer is often relived to get medical assistance. If the person has sought help early, then medication may be enough, with family support, to restore a good level of normal functioning. Frequently, however, the first time the problem is faced head-on is when a crisis has occurred. The person may refuse to talk, or eat, or is constantly in fear, or is hearing voices. Under these circumstances, a doctor may feel that the person with schizophrenia requires hospitalization. The sufferer may have to be committed to hospital involuntarily under the mental health Act, after assessment by a consultant psychiatrist and approved social worker. In these circumstances, the safety of the sufferer and those around him is of paramount importance. During the early days in hospital strong sedation may be necessary to prevent dangerous situation arising and to enable the sufferer to sleep. Quite quickly people with schizophrenia view hospital as a safe place and agree to stay there voluntarily while receiving treatment.
• On discharge a sufferer will need support from friends, relatives and often community psychiatric nurses. Talking to others with the illness and with community psychiatric nurses may be of great help. Doctors and psychiatrists will be available if relatives need assistance. Rehabilitation and adjusting to life back in the community take varying lengths of time, which is true of any illness.
Exercise is a very good relaxant and a way of helping restore normality. Relaxation therapies, especially tapes and music, yoga, aromatherapy, reflexology, and Indian head massage may also be of great benefit.

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