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How Medication Can Treat Your Schizophrenia

How Medication Can Treat Your Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a rare disorder in which your brain interprets reality differently, leading to hallucinations and delusions. Left untreated, schizophrenia can make it hard to function independently, but the right treatment 一 especially the right medication 一 can help you live the life you want.

At Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health in Newport Beach, California, board-certified psychiatrist, Dr. Hadi Estakhri understands that schizophrenia can be a commonly misunderstood mental health condition and provides expert treatments to regulate your symptoms and help you lead a full life.

Below, Dr. Estakhri discusses how medication can treat schizophrenia as well as the common medications used.

How does medication help schizophrenia?

Medication is the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, and it serves two purposes:

Antipsychotics are the most frequently prescribed medications for schizophrenia. They can help treat schizophrenia by affecting a neurotransmitter in your brain called dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical messenger, and it’s often called the “feel good” chemical. 

Dopamine also plays a role in mood functioning and decision making. Having the right balance is important for your brain. 

Even though you need dopamine, too much can contribute to hallucinations and delusions. Certain medications block the dopamine receptors in your brain so your brain doesn’t receive too many messages. This can help reduce hallucinations and other symptoms.

Medications used to treat schizophrenia

Now that we’ve covered how medications restore the balance of chemicals in your brain, let’s take a closer look at the different types of medications. 

First-generation antipsychotics (FGA)

Also called typical antipsychotics, FGAs are drugs used primarily for the treatment of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. While effective, they do have higher risks of side effects such as muscle stiffness and dystonia. Examples include chlorpromazine, fluphenazinehaloperidol, and trifluoperazine.

Second-generation antipsychotics (SGA)

SGAs, sometimes called atypical antipsychotics, are less likely to block dopamine, but they’re also less likely to cause movement-related side effects. Examples of SGAs include aripiprazoleasenapineclozapine, and quetiapine.

Long-acting injectable antipsychotics

In addition to FGAs and SGAs, some antipsychotics can be delivered via intramuscular or subcutaneous injection. Fluphenazine decanoate and haloperidol decanoate are two examples of medications available as injections.

Other medications

Other medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs, can also help treat schizophrenia, especially if you have co-occurring disorders. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs work in a similar way: by affecting the chemicals in your brain. 

Some types of antidepressants target a different neurotransmitter: serotonin. These medications treat depression by increasing the levels of serotonin in your brain.

When using antipsychotic medications, the best practice is to take the lowest possible dose to manage your symptoms. Sometimes the best results come from a combination of medications or different medications at different dosages. 

Beyond medication: a holistic treatment plan

Medication is a pillar of schizophrenia, but it’s not the only pillar. Other forms of treatment, including therapy and lifestyle modifications, can help you manage your thoughts, create routines, and adopt strategies to help you function normally. 

Part of your treatment is learning to spot the signs of a relapse, so you can get the help you need before the flare-up comes full force.

If you’re concerned about symptoms of schizophrenia and wondering if medication is right for you, schedule an appointment by calling our office at 949-258-7135 or using our online scheduler. 

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