Schizophrenia in virtually all cases requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment includes better coping skills in everyday life, strategies to reduce stress and become aware of early warning signs of a psychotic episode, psychotherapy to better manage life, and medication. Medication may be life-long, but does not have to be.
Medication for an independent, autonomous life
Treatment with medication (antipsychotics) and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed. However, medication has drastically reduced the need for hospitalization. Many patients who had to be hospitalized for most of their lives in earlier times can now care for their families or work as highly paid managers in large corporations.
Medication allows people with schizophrenia to lead normal lives. Especially the newer generation of antipsychotics has increased the quality of life significantly, while reducing some of the side-effects of the earlier generation of antipsychotic medication. Still, antipsychotic medication has overall still not reached the low side-effect profiles of newer antidepressants. While tardive dyskinesia has become rarer with the second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) and is virtually absent in clozapine especially and the potentially lethal malignant neuroleptic syndrome is a very rare phenomenon, they are often associated with side-effects from weight gain (especially olanzapine) to drowsiness (quetiapine). It seems that we are only willing to accept the greater potential side-effects of modern antipsychotics because of the enormous improvement they can bring in a patient’s quality of life.