Various treatments, therapies and community supports are available to help people with schizophrenia manage their condition and live their lives to the full.
This can be used to reduce the intensity of distressing experiences. Medication can also be used to help you stay well after the signs of psychosis have reduced or gone away.
Antipsychotic medicines are the main group of medications used to treat schizophrenia. The goal of treatment with antipsychotics is to effectively manage your symptoms at the lowest possible dose.
It is difficult to predict how well a particular person will respond to a particular antipsychotic medicine. You and your psychiatrist may need to try different medicines, doses or combinations over time. Read more about antipsychotics.
Talking therapies, such as psychology sessions or counselling, can help you learn coping strategies, address problems with motivation, regain confidence or cope with stress.
The focus of psychological therapy or counselling is on education and support for you to understand what is happening to you, to learn coping strategies and to pursue a path of recovery. Sessions help you gain the confidence and belief in yourself that is critical to recovery.
Examples of talking therapies are:
- Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) teaches how behaviours, thoughts and mood influence each other. Sessions may be held on a one-to-one basis, sometimes include partners or family or are held in a group.
- Relapse prevention – to help you identify early warning signs of relapse and prolong periods of remission.
- Family therapy can help both you and your family.
- Social skills training focuses on improving your communication and social interactions and your ability to fully participate in daily activities.
- Vocational support programmes can help people with schizophrenia complete training, find a job and obtain self-sufficiency.
- Support from whānau and friends can be very important for the health and wellbeing of people with schizophrenia. It is important for families to be well informed and supported themselves.
- Social and life skills support – occupational therapists or social workers can help with day-to-day issues or connect you with useful community services. They can also help you prepare for, find and keep jobs.
- Peer support groups – being around other people who've had similar experiences can help you feel less alone and better understood.
- Certain complimentary therapies may enhance your life and help you to maintain wellbeing. In general, mindfulness, yoga, exercise, relaxation, massage, mirimiri and aromatherapy have all shown to have some effect in alleviating mental distress.
Occasionally there may be times when a stay in hospital will be helpful. This may be when you need a place away from stresses, your medications need a major review or you need other treatments that can only be delivered in hospital. A stay in hospital may be the best way to keep you safe, get proper nutrition and adequate sleep.
The Mental Health Act
In some cases, if you do not agree to receive treatment, but your doctors consider your treatment crucial for your wellbeing and safety, they may make an application to have you assessed under the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992. Read about the compulsory assessment process(external link).
You always have the right to be treated with respect and to have things explained to you in a way and language that you understand. You can ask for family, whānau or friends to support you while you are assessed and during your treatment. Read more about your rights as a mental health patient(external link).