Schizophrenia Treatment at Agape Treatment Center
Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder affecting a person’s ability to behave, think, and feel in normal or expected ways. Identifying and managing schizophrenia is essential for ensuring long-term success in recovery. Many people who live with untreated schizophrenia turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of self-treating their symptoms.
With dual diagnosis treatment, both alcohol use disorder (AUD) or substance use disorder (SUD) and schizophrenia can be treated at once. This eliminates the need to self-medicate in harmful ways so that patients are less likely to relapse after exiting rehab. Treating schizophrenia in rehab also makes it possible for patients to lead balanced, happy, and ultimately fulfilling lives.
When schizophrenia is active and untreated, it affects a person’s ability to distinguish between reality and unreal experiences. This illness causes abnormal or disorganized motor behaviors that include unpredictable agitation and child-like movements or silliness. People with schizophrenia also exhibit jumbled thoughts and speech, fixed, false beliefs that are clearly contradicted by evidence and auditory hallucinations. People with schizophrenia may even feel, see, or smell things that do not exist or are not currently present, and they may have paranoid or persecutory delusions.
Schizophrenia also has many negative symptoms or symptoms that indicate a lack of behaviors or emotions that are normally present in those who do not live with this disease. These include decreased speech or a tendency to remain silent for long periods of time, limited desire for social interaction, and decreased or impaired emotional expression. Sadly, nearly half of all people with schizophrenia struggle with substance abuse. Schizophrenia itself is frequently mistaken for substance abuse given that many of the symptoms of these issues are similar or identical.
Risk factors for schizophrenia
There is currently no known cure for schizophrenia. However, the treatment and management strategies for this illness are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Moreover, when needs-specific management plans are put in place, they generally exhibit high levels of long-term effectiveness.
The exact cause of schizophrenia is also unknown. However, there are certain risk factors that may make a person more predisposed to the development of this disease including:
- Genetic predisposition or having an immediate family member with schizophrenia
- Brain chemistry, brain structure, and brain functioning
- Various environmental factors
Researchers believe that a combination of genetics and environment may play a significant role in the development of schizophrenia in some individuals. Common environmental risk factors include exposure to viruses or infection during gestation or shortly after birth, and early childhood malnutrition. Neurological imbalances affecting a person’s dopamine, serotonin, or glutamate levels may be key as well. Diagnostic exams have additionally revealed minor differences in the brain structures of those with this disease that include:
- Enlarged cavities at the brain’s center
- Lower amounts of gray matter
- Decreased or increased neurological activity in select areas
Some people with schizophrenia may seek to alleviate their depression or anxiety by using drugs or alcohol. However, substance abuse of any type can also be a catalyst for the development of this disease or for schizophrenic episodes. This is especially true for people with a history of mental illness, a family history of schizophrenia, or other risk factors. When drug or alcohol abuse is determined to be a catalyst, this is known as substance-induced schizophrenia.
Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia
Common signs of schizophrenia include:
- Severely impaired communication or putting words together in ways that cannot be understood
- Delusions or false beliefs that are not supported by evidence or reality
- Hearing and seeing things that don’t exist
- Excessive or useless physical movements
For diagnostic purposes, the five primary or core symptoms of schizophrenia are:
- Disorganized speech and thinking
- Unpredictable or disorganized motor performance/behaviors
- Negative symptoms or symptoms that exhibit a lack of behaviors and emotions that are considered normal
The negative symptoms of schizophrenia impact a person’s ability to function, establish meaningful relationships, and connect with the world around them.
How is schizophrenia diagnosed?
Schizophrenia is currently diagnosed using guidelines established by the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This manual states that a person must have at least two, clearly defined core symptoms of schizophrenia. Moreover, one of these core systems must last for a minimum of one month and should be either disorganized speech, delusions, or hallucinations.
Diagnosis for schizophrenia starts with a full medical exam and a psychological evaluation. These assessments include questions about family health histories, past symptoms, and life habits. They are performed to rule out other physical and psychological causes of schizophrenia.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and computer tomography (CT) scans can additionally be used to capture images of the brain and body that might reveal additional evidence of this disease. Other tests performed can include:
- Rorschach tests (inkblot tests)
- Personality tests
- Cognition tests
Thoroughness in diagnostic testing helps limit the likelihood of misdiagnosis, particularly in instances in which people are affected by a similar condition known as schizoaffective disorder. Schizoaffective disorder is characterized by a combination of mood disorder and schizophrenia symptoms. Schizoaffective disorder is less common than schizophrenia, and despite sharing similar symptoms with this disease, schizoaffective disorder requires its own set of treatment types.
How is schizophrenia treated?
Even when the symptoms of schizophrenia gradually subside, this disease requires lifelong management. Anti-psychotic medications are often the cornerstone of the ongoing management of schizophrenia. This multi-pronged approach aims to minimize both symptoms and schizophrenic episodes while maintaining the lowest dose possible. Psychotherapy is also used to alleviate the depression and anxiety that patients experience, foster increased social engagement, and encourage the maintenance of beneficial forms of self-care,
Treatment for schizophrenia at agape
At Agape Treatment Center, we know how hard it is for people to live with untreated schizophrenia. We also know that with the right therapies, medications, and interventions, our patients can lead far happier and far more productive lives. We work hard to tailor our schizophrenia treatment plans to suit the needs of the individual.
Moreover, for our clients with schizophrenia, we also offer second-generation antipsychotic drugs with fewer side effects, higher levels of efficacy, and greater ease of long-term use. We carefully track the progress of our clients so that their medication plans and other treatments can be refined to ensure optimum effectiveness.
Contact us today to get started
If you or someone you love has schizophrenia as a co-occurring disorder, our dual diagnosis program can help. We offer a diverse range of medical and mental health services on our Florida campus, as well as many holistic therapies for promoting better health all around. Get in touch with us today to find out more about our programs or to start your intake interview.