Advances in both medication and psychosocial (non-medication) treatments have led to better outcomes for individuals who develop schizophrenia and related mental health conditions. As with most mental health conditions, a combination of medications and psychosocial support and psychotherapy offer the best opportunity for reducing symptoms and regaining prior levels of functioning.
Medications play a crucial role in the treatment of schizophrenia and related conditions. Response to medications vary. Some individuals experience total or near total resolution of symptoms, and some notice smaller effects. For most individuals, symptoms are improved but are still present to some extent. Ongoing treatment with medications has been shown to provide the best protection from relapse of symptoms. Having a close working relationship with your physician will help you find the best medication for you, maximizing benefits and minimizing side effects.
In addition to medications, psychosocial treatments play a key role in the treatment of schizophrenia and related conditions. These treatments help individuals to develop skills and supports needed to be successful in their daily lives and help with symptoms that remain after treatment with medications. VA provides the following psychosocial treatments for schizophrenia:
Assertive community treatment helps people with schizophrenia access treatment regularly by providing clinicians who visit clients in the home or in their local community on a frequent basis. This treatment has been shown to decrease hospitalizations and help people live independently and be employed. VA offers a version of assertive community treatment that has been modified for the VA system known as Intensive Community Mental Health Recovery (ICMHR) Services.
Supported employment, specifically the individual placement and support model, helps individuals with schizophrenia find and keep jobs. People who received these services more often found jobs, worked more hours, were employed longer, and earned more money.
CBT helps people diagnosed with schizophrenia understand relationships among their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and learn new patterns of thinking to support positive feelings.
IMR helps those with schizophrenia set meaningful goals and learn skills to support their mental health and recovery.
SST was developed to help Veterans learn effective social skills that aid in their recovery. SST includes education, breaking skills down into simple steps, modeling, role-playing, and group support.