Schizophrenia is a mental illness that causes psychosis, a condition that affects your perception of reality. When experiencing psychosis from schizophrenia, you may hold false beliefs about yourself and the world, see or hear things that don’t exist and display unusual thought and speech patterns. These symptoms can be scary and confusing and can make maintaining your hygiene, health and career difficult. Schizophrenia also affects the ability to interact with people, leading to isolation from family, friends and community. However, medicine for schizophrenia can help you manage your symptoms and regain control of your life.
Schizophrenia affects less than 1% of the American adult population and only 0.32% of people worldwide. However, the condition is highly stigmatized, especially since its psychotic symptoms can cause unusual or erratic behavior.
While schizophrenia can’t be cured, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. You also don’t have to deal with it alone. The mental health experts at FHE Health can help you get a handle on the condition through various therapies and medicine for schizophrenia.
Antipsychotic Medications: Overview and Effectiveness
Antipsychotics are the main drugs used to treat schizophrenia. They’re medications used to manage the disorganization, delusions and hallucinations that schizophrenia causes.
These medications can fix your brain chemistry to reduce or keep away psychotic symptoms. Most antipsychotics can clear your confusion and stabilize your mood and actions within a few hours. However, you may need to take them for longer than a month to feel their full impact on your perception of reality.
Typical vs. Atypical Antipsychotic Medicine for Schizophrenia: Differences and Benefits
Antipsychotic meds for schizophrenia can fall into one of two categories: typical and atypical.
Typical antipsychotics were developed in the 1950s and were among the first medications used to treat psychosis. This type of medicine for schizophrenia is also known as a dopamine receptor antagonist (DRA) because it blocks the parts of your brain that normally respond to the chemical dopamine, slowing down their activity to lower the occurrence of some psychotic symptoms.
Atypical antipsychotics came into use in the 1990s. An atypical medicine for schizophrenia blocks the parts of your brain that respond to chemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline and histamine.
Atypical antipsychotics are the preferred medicine for schizophrenia because they have fewer side effects than typical medicines. However, typical antipsychotics are still used to treat severe psychosis and regulate disorganized behavior that could endanger the person with schizophrenia or those around them.
You can be prescribed the generic or branded versions of these first-generation antipsychotics:
- Chlorpromazine: Chlorpromazine is a tablet medicine for schizophrenia that regulates the amount of dopamine in your brain to help you relax and balance your mood. Only generic versions of chlorpromazine are available in the United States.
- Fluphenazine: Fluphenazine is a tablet that can balance your dopamine levels to regulate your thoughts, mood and behavior. This medicine is useful for calming the irrational and disruptive thoughts caused by schizophrenia psychosis. Physicians prescribe generic versions of fluphenazine in the United States.
- Haloperidol: Commonly known by the brand name Haldol, haloperidol regulates dopamine to balance your thoughts, emotions and actions. When used as medicine for schizophrenia, haloperidol can reduce the erratic thoughts and movements caused by psychosis.
- Prochlorperazine: This antipsychotic is sold under the brand name Compazine in the United States. As a DRA, prochlorperazine regulates dopamine levels to balance your mood and behavior.
Atypical antipsychotics are more common in the United States than typical antipsychotics. A physician can prescribe you the following atypical meds for schizophrenia:
- Aripiprazole: Sold locally under the brand names Abilify and Aristada, aripiprazole can be prescribed to people with schizophrenia aged 13 and up. It regulates serotonin and dopamine in your brain to help you control your behavior and experience a more balanced mood.
- Asenapine: Known locally by the brand name Saphris, asenapine controls the amount of serotonin and dopamine in your brain to make your thought processes clearer and balance your moods. Asenapine can also reduce visual and auditory hallucinations caused by psychosis.
- Brexpiprazole: Sold under the brand name Rexulti, brexpiprazole is an atypical antipsychotic tablet that regulates mood and reduces hallucinations from psychosis.
- Cariprazine: Commonly known as Vraylar, cariprazine balances dopamine and serotonin to reduce hallucinations and control erratic thoughts, emotions and behavior. Taking cariprazine can make it easier for you to participate in daily life activities.
Individualized Treatment Plans and Medication Selection
Typical and atypical antipsychotics are prescription meds for schizophrenia, so a doctor has to give you a prescription to use them.
Meds for schizophrenia usually come in oral tablets and syrups. However, if you normally forget to take your medications on time or find it difficult to swallow medicines, your doctor may give you a depot injection that slowly releases the drug into your system.
Medicine for schizophrenia works differently among people with the condition. Finding one that can properly manage your symptoms while producing minimal side effects may be a lengthy process that involves experimenting with different drugs and dosages. Your physician will use an individualized treatment plan to keep track of your medications and determine whether they’re right for you.
Potential Side Effects and Monitoring for Optimal Results
Both typical and atypical antipsychotics can have serious side effects.
Typical antipsychotics may cause repetitive, involuntary movements of the face, neck and limbs that make it difficult to speak and walk. They can also cause restlessness and rigidity, affecting your ability to perform activities of daily living.
Atypical antipsychotics can affect your metabolism, leading to weight gain, high blood fat and diabetes.
Thus, having a trusted physician monitor your antipsychotic intake is crucial for ensuring your schizophrenia medication doesn’t affect other aspects of your health.
Consulting the psychiatrists and doctors at FHE is a good way of ensuring you receive proper schizophrenia care. Our doctors will monitor your body’s reaction to meds for schizophrenia and perform frequent blood tests to ensure the medications don’t affect vital organs such as the kidneys.
FHE also offers various therapies to ensure you have the tools to self-regulate and manage schizophrenia symptoms. Contact FHE Health today to receive experienced and compassionate care for schizophrenia.