Wednesday, January 13, 2010
How is Schizophrenia Treated?
Hi Everyone, I hope you are doing well, I am doing good. This is part 1 of treatments for Schizophrenia. As with all medications it has it's side effects but they are much easier to maintain than the disease itself. It usually takes some time to find the right cocktail as they call it to find out what works for a person. Everyone is different and what works for one person may not work on another. It can be a difficult life until someone who suffers from this illness finds what works for them. Thanks for visiting my blog, Take Care, Janet :)
Because the causes of schizophrenia are still unknown, treatments focus on eliminating the symptoms of the disease. Treatments include antipsychotic medications and various psychosocial treatments.
Antipsychotic medications have been available since the mid-1950's. The older types are called conventional or "typical" antipsychotics. Some of the more commonly used typical medications include:
* Chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
* Haloperidol (Haldol)
* Perphenazine (Etrafon, Trilafon)
* Fluphenazine (Prolixin).
In the 1990's, new antipsychotic medications were developed. These new medications are called second generation, or "atypical" antipsychotics.
One of these medications, clozapine (Clozaril) is an effective medication that treats psychotic symptoms, hallucinations, and breaks with reality. But clozapine can sometimes cause a serious problem called agranulocytosis, which is a loss of the white blood cells that help a person fight infection. People who take clozapine must get their white blood cell counts checked every week or two. This problem and the cost of blood tests make treatment with clozapine difficult for many people. But clozapine is potentially helpful for people who do not respond to other antipsychotic medications.
Other atypical antipsychotics were also developed. None cause agranulocytosis. Examples include:
* Risperidone (Risperdal)
* Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
* Quetiapine (Seroquel)
* Ziprasidone (Geodon)
* Aripiprazole (Abilify)
* Paliperidone (Invega).
When a doctor says it is okay to stop taking a medication, it should be gradually tapered off, never stopped suddenly.
What are the side effects?
Some people have side effects when they start taking these medications. Most side effects go away after a few days and often can be managed successfully. People who are taking antipsychotics should not drive until they adjust to their new medication. Side effects of many antipsychotics include:
* Dizziness when changing positions
* Blurred vision
* Rapid heartbeat
* Sensitivity to the sun
* Skin rashes
* Menstrual problems for women.
Atypical antipsychotic medications can cause major weight gain and changes in a person's metabolism. This may increase a person's risk of getting diabetes and high cholesterol. A person's weight, glucose levels, and lipid levels should be monitored regularly by a doctor while taking an atypical antipsychotic medication.
Typical antipsychotic medications can cause side effects related to physical movement, such as:
* Persistent muscle spasms
Long-term use of typical antipsychotic medications may lead to a condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD). TD causes muscle movements a person can't control. The movements commonly happen around the mouth. TD can range from mild to severe, and in some people the problem cannot be cured. Sometimes people with TD recover partially or fully after they stop taking the medication.
TD happens to fewer people who take the atypical antipsychotics, but some people may still get TD. People who think that they might have TD should check with their doctor before stopping their medication.
How do antipsychotics interact with other medications?
Antipsychotics can produce unpleasant or dangerous side effects when taken with certain medications. For this reason, all doctors treating a patient need to be aware of all the medications that person is taking. Doctors need to know about prescription and over-the-counter medicine, vitamins, minerals, and herbal supplements. People also need to discuss any alcohol or other drug use with their doctor.
To find out more about how antipsychotics work, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) funded a study called CATIE (Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness). This study compared the effectiveness and side effects of five antipsychotics used to treat people with schizophrenia. In general, the study found that the older typical antipsychotic perphenazine (Trilafon) worked as well as the newer, atypical medications. But because people respond differently to different medications, it is important that treatments be designed carefully for each person. More information about CATIE is on the NIMH website