A paranoid schizophrenic suffers from delusions and hallucinations and if he or she is left untreated, the illness can cause significant social problems whereby the patient becomes a risk to themselves and others. The symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia normally begin in early adulthood and are often accompanied by related conditions such as depression and anxiety problems. However, despite the seriousness of the illness, treatment for paranoid schizophrenia is usually very effective and once the symptoms are under control, the patient can go on to lead a happy and productive life.
What is the treatment for paranoid schizophrenia?
Treatment for paranoid schizophrenia is largely dependent on the level of severity of the illness. Milder cases of paranoid schizophrenia will be treated with medication, but when a patient is considered to be a danger to themselves and those around them, they will be hospitalised, usually involuntarily, until the symptoms of the illness can be brought under control.
What medications are used to treat paranoid schizophrenia?
The main positive symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia are hallucinations and delusional behaviour, so the first line of treatment is normally antipsychotic medication. Typical antipsychotics are very effective at controlling the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, but they can cause serious side effects such as involuntary movements. Newer antipsychotics, referred to as atypical antipsychotic medication, are also very effective at managing symptoms, but they can also cause unwanted side effects, including weight gain and diabetes. Other medications such as anti depressives and mood stabilisers will be used to treat any other conditions that might be present.
What other treatments are used for paranoid schizophrenia patients?
Psychotherapy can be a very useful avenue of treatment for paranoid schizophrenics. Cognitive behavioural therapy can help the patient to find ways of dealing with everyday challenges and the stigma commonly experienced when coping with a serious mental health disorder. Psychotherapy can help the patient to deal with traumatic events from the past and gain a greater level of understanding; it can also teach the patient better communication skills and improve their interpersonal relationships.
Electroconvulsive therapy can be used to reduce the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. It works by causing brief seizures that alter the brain chemistry and can be a fast and effective way of treating paranoid schizophrenia. However, it is not suitable for all patients and is not considered to be a routine treatment.
In severe cases of paranoid schizophrenia, or in times of crisis, the only treatment option is temporary hospitalisation. This would be considered necessary if a patient is not taking their medication, or symptoms are especially severe and the patient is a danger to others or themselves. Temporary residential care will help doctors find the correct level of medication and ensure the patient is eating and sleeping properly.
Teaching social and vocational skills to those living with paranoid schizophrenia can help them live an independent life and re-integrate back into the community. Patients will learn useful skills such as cooking and managing personal finances, plus they will have access to support workers and self help groups in the community.