Drugs & Treatments

What are the best drugs and treatment for schizophrenia?

Oh boy, Irene, if you’re asking me about the best medications, and if I actually knew the answer, I’d be first in line to win the Nobel Peace Prize!  There are many drugs that are quite effective in controlling the symptoms of schizophrenia.  Unfortunately, people who suffer from schizophrenia aren’t all from the same “cookie-cutter.” Michael, for example, was initially prescribed Risperdal which is considered to be a wonderful medication.  But it had little effect on him.  Later he was prescribed Abilify, which over a period of time, with small and gradual increases in dosage proved to be the miracle for our family.  In spite of the terrible side effects Michael suffered from Abilify, this drug brought him back to us—complete and whole!  I often wonder if he might have had worse side effects from a different medication. There isn’t a day that goes by that my husband and I aren’t grateful to the scientist who discovered it.  My NAMI mothers’ children are all on different drugs that are working quite well for them, and they’re also grateful!  Often, the first drug prescribed, or even the second won’t be effective to alleviate symptoms.  The journey back is almost always through experimentation with medications and dosages, until the right formula is found.

In my mind, the first and best thing that parents can do, is to find a psychiatrist who is willing to talk to them, and make them feel comfortable. By luck, we happened upon meeting Dr. Kim, who was on call the night of Mike’s first hospitalization.

We were fortunate that by numbers alone, we had many family members who were great resources for help as Michael made his recovery.  It has occurred to me many times that other parents don’t always have the same support system.  What happens to a single or divorced parent who has absolutely no family assistance when their child suddenly becomes psychotic?

First, getting a knowledgeable psychiatrist is absolutely essential.  Usually, the physician has a number of “helpers” including psychologists who might be helpful in cognitive therapy, case-managers who could direct a parent to additional resources, nurses who answer questions regarding medications, and employment specialists who can find your child gainful work, once recovered.    Asking a whole lot of questions about additional help and services that are offered will help you to know if you’re in the “right place.”

Recovery from any type of brain injury takes time to heal.   Whether it’s a stroke, traumatic head injury, or schizophrenia, it takes time.  But it can happen.

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