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How Do Schizophrenia Treatment Centers Work?

schizophrenia treatment centers

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Schizophrenic treatment centers are one approach to treating this mental health disorder. A schizophrenic treatment center typically includes either residential or day treatment. These treatment centers may also offer treatment programs for complex diagnoses, which include mental disorders like bipolar disorder and depression, and substance abuse.

Typically, a residential or day treatment program is reserved for situations where symptoms are very severe. Otherwise, outpatient treatment such as regularly working with a therapist and psychiatrist can help someone manage their symptoms. 

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder. It’s relatively rare, affecting less than one percent of people in the U.S.  When someone’s schizophrenia is active, symptoms include:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Problems with thinking
  • Lack of motivation

With treatment, symptoms of this psychiatric disorder can improve significantly.

When someone’s symptoms are active, they may not recognize what’s real and what’s not. The severity, duration, and frequency of schizophrenia symptoms vary between people.

Symptoms can fall into one of three main categories, which are:

  • Positive symptoms: These are abnormally present, or symptoms people without schizophrenia don’t have. Positive symptoms can include hallucinations like hearing voices. Positive symptoms can also include paranoia, seeing things that aren’t there, or distorted perceptions or beliefs.
  • Negative symptoms: This type of symptom is abnormally absent, meaning people with schizophrenia don’t experience these things other people do. For example, the inability to find pleasure or express pleasure is considered negative symptoms of this mental illness. 
  • Disorganized symptoms: These can include confused thinking and speech, problems with logical thinking, or abnormal behaviors and movement.

The following are definitions of some of the symptoms that can occur:

  • Psychosis is a set of symptoms that involve losing touch with reality. There’s a disruption in how the brain processes information. If a person goes through a psychotic episode, they’ll experience disturbances in their thoughts and perceptions. It can be hard to understand what’s real versus what isn’t.
  • Delusions are false beliefs that are fixed, despite evidence they aren’t true. The most common type of delusions is also known as paranoid or persecutory delusions. These are when someone thinks another person or group of people is harming them.
  • Hallucinations occur when you hear, smell, taste, see or feel things that aren’t there. They may feel very much like a real perception. Hearing voices, or auditory hallucinations, are most common in schizophrenia.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech are when speech doesn’t make sense. For example, someone experiencing this symptom could jump between seemingly unrelated topics.
  • Negative symptoms refer to what is absent in someone with a psychotic disorder. People who are diagnosed might not want to have social contact, or they might not experience pleasure.

Often cognitive symptoms also exist. Cognitive symptoms include problems with memory and attention.

Symptoms usually initially appear in early adulthood. For a diagnosis of schizophrenia, symptoms have to be ongoing for at least six months. Men tend to experience the first symptoms in their late teens or early 20s. For women, symptoms may first appear in their 20s or early 30s.

Before someone receives an official schizophrenia diagnosis, they may have an initial episode of psychosis. During the first episode of psychosis, gradual changes in mood, thinking, and social functioning may occur.

Is Schizophrenia Curable?

Is schizophrenia curable? The answer is no; it’s considered a chronic disease. 

However, it’s very much manageable with the appropriate treatment. 

There are a variety of treatment approaches that might be used with one another to help the symptoms. Sometimes, effective treatment plans need to change as an individual’s needs shift. 

Does Schizophrenia Get Worse As You Age?

Our bodies change in many ways as we age. In some ways, these changes may not always be positive. However, schizophrenia may get better as you age. People with schizophrenia have a higher risk of developing certain physical illnesses than the general population, but they don’t appear to age any faster cognitively.

Psychosocial functioning tends to improve with age for many people with schizophrenia.

As someone with this mental illness gets older, they learn from past experiences. Those experiences make them more likely to follow their mental health treatment plan. 

Older people with the disorder often have higher self-esteem and a better quality of life than younger people with the disorder.

Treatment Options for Schizophrenia

While schizophrenia isn’t curable and can be a scary diagnosis, what’s important to remember is that there are so many treatment options. Treatments are also constantly advancing as we learn more about the disorder.

Antipsychotic Medication

Antipsychotic medications are often an important part of a schizophrenia treatment plan. These medicines can reduce the frequency and intensity of psychotic symptoms. Antipsychotic medications work by affecting dopamine, which is a brain neurotransmitter. These medicines impact your brain chemistry to stabilize symptoms. 

The goal of your health care team will be to prescribe you medicines at the lowest possible dose to manage your symptoms in your everyday life. 

Your treatment team or provider may need to try different drugs, doses, and combinations.

Inpatient Treatment for Schizophrenia

People often ask, “Can Schizophrenia be treated?” In some cases, you or your loved one might need to spend time at inpatient schizophrenia treatment centers. Inpatient mental health treatment is very structured. There is a lot of supervision. These are also called residential treatment centers.

A doctor may recommend inpatient mental health treatment if someone shows suicidal thoughts or behaviors or threatens themselves or others. Other times inpatient care could be appropriate in schizophrenic treatment centers include:

  • The person is experiencing severe symptoms like hallucinations, out-of-control thoughts, disordered thinking, or delusions
  • Someone is having a hard time taking care of themselves
  • They have a co-occurring disorder such as an addiction
  • They require monitoring, medical care, or medication management help

Once someone goes to residential treatment programs, they will usually start with a psychiatric assessment. From there, treatment providers can create an individualized treatment plan.

In an inpatient center, someone can receive various types of behavioral therapy, family therapy, and education on managing their symptoms as they return to their daily life.

The goal of spending time at schizophrenia treatment centers is to regain a sense of calm stability and a high level of care. Treatment can go on without distractions or interruptions. 

When they don’t have to deal with day-to-day stress or responsibilities, people with schizophrenia can focus on self-care and getting better. These things aren’t always achievable in outpatient care.

Other Options for the Treatment of Schizophrenia 

Beyond medication, therapy, and inpatient care, many other parts of the treatment process may happen. For example, there are psychosocial schizophrenia treatment centers.

Psychosocial therapy can include teaching skills to address everyday challenges someone living with schizophrenia could face. These therapies help people who want to meet goals like having steady employment or fulfilling relationships. Research shows that psychosocial treatments can reduce the risk of symptom relapse and hospitalization.

There’s also an approach called Assertive Community Treatment or ACT. ACT is for people with schizophrenia at risk of repeated hospitalizations or homelessness. ACT uses a multidisciplinary team to provide care.

If someone you love has schizophrenia, it can be challenging. You might not know how to best respond, particularly if they’re experiencing psychosis.

Helpful things can include helping them get treated and encouraging them to stay in treatment. Remember that to the person experiencing them, the hallucinations and beliefs seem real. You can be supportive without tolerating anything dangerous or inappropriate.

Please contact The Mental Health Center of San Diego by calling 858-465-7722 if you’d like to learn more about schizophrenia treatment or how we manage symptoms.