Given the seriousness and chronic nature of schizophrenia, home remedies are not deemed appropriate treatment for this condition. There is currently not thought to be a cure for schizophrenia, but there are a number of helpful treatments available, of which medication remains the cornerstone of treatment for people with this condition. These medications are often referred to as antipsychotics since they help decrease the intensity of psychotic symptoms. Many health-care professionals prescribe one of these medications, sometimes in combination of one or more other psychiatric medications, in order to maximize the benefit for the person with schizophrenia.
Medications that are thought to be particularly effective in treating positive symptoms of schizophrenia include olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), ziprasidone (Geodon), aripiprazole (Abilify), paliperidone (Invega), asenapine (Saphris), lurasidone (Latuda), and iloperidone (Fanapt). These medications are the newer group of antipsychotic medications, also called second-generation antipsychotic drugs. They are known for having the ability to work quickly compared to many other psychiatric medications. As a group of medications, side effects that occur most often include sleepiness, dizziness, and increased appetite. Weight gain, which may be associated with higher blood sugar levels, elevated blood lipid levels, and sometimes increased levels of a hormone called prolactin, may also occur. Although older antipsychotic medications in this class like haloperidol (Haldol), perphenazine (Trilafon), and molindone (Moban) are more likely to cause muscle stiffness, shakiness, and very rarely uncoordinated muscle twitches (tardive dyskinesia) that can be permanent, health-care professionals appropriately monitor the people they treat for these potential side effects as well. Also, more recent research regarding all antipsychotic medications seems to demonstrate that the older (first-generation) antipsychotics are just as effective as the newer ones, both in the management of current symptoms and prevention of future symptoms, and have no higher rate of people stopping treatment because of any side effect the medications cause. Not all medications that treat schizophrenia in adults have been approved for use in treating childhood schizophrenia.
Mood-stabilizer medications like lithium (Lithobid), divalproex (Depakote), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and lamotrigine (Lamictal) can be useful in treating mood swings that sometimes occur in individuals who have a diagnosable mood disorder in addition to psychotic symptoms (for example, schizoaffective disorder, depression, in addition to schizophrenia). These medications may take a bit longer to work compared to the antipsychotic medications. Some (for example, lithium, divalproex, and carbamazepine) require monitoring of medication blood levels, and some can be associated with birth defects when taken by pregnant women.
Antidepressant medications are the primary medical treatment for the depression that can often accompany schizophrenia. Examples of antidepressants that are commonly prescribed for that purpose include serotonergic (SSRI) medications that affect serotonin levels like fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Lexapro); combination serotonergic/adrenergic medications (SNRIs) like venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta), as well as bupropion (Wellbutrin), which is a dopaminergic (affecting dopamine levels) antidepressant medication.
Despite its stigmatized history, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be a viable treatment for people whose schizophrenia has inadequately responded to a number of medication trials and psychosocial interventions.
When treating pregnant individuals with schizophrenia, health-care professionals take great care to balance the need to maintain the person's more stable thoughts and behavior while minimizing the risks that medications used to treat this disorder may present. While some medications that treat schizophrenia may carry risks to the fetus in pregnancy and during breastfeeding, careful monitoring of how much medication is administered and the health of the fetus and of the mother can go a long way toward protecting the fetus from any such risks, while maximizing the chance that the fetus will grow in the healthier environment afforded by an emotionally healthy mother.