Schizophrenia Treatment at Absolute Awakenings

Schizophrenia can negatively impact an individual’s life in many ways. Finding comprehensive and personalized treatment is paramount to experiencing true recovery. Absolute Awakenings Treatment Center is ready to help.

Understanding Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder that’s characterized by abnormal perception of reality. People with schizophrenia exhibit disorganized speech and behavior, and they may experience psychotic symptoms such as visual and auditory hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions. Living with untreated schizophrenia can be downright nightmarish. Without the proper medication and support, this disease can be lonely, confusing, and progressive.

Sadly, studies show that schizophrenia often co-occurs with addiction. For some people, the onset of schizophrenia symptoms may be triggered by prolonged and excessive substance abuse. For others, substance abuse is an attempt at self-treatment and an effort to get relief. Common complications of schizophrenia include:

  • Joblessness
  • Homelessness
  • Social isolation
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Suicidal thoughts, suicidal ideation, and suicidal actions

At Absolute Awakenings, we know that addiction treatment and treatment for co-occurring disorders like schizophrenia must occur simultaneously. By treating addiction at its source, we help our patients minimize the risk of relapse, optimize their physical and mental well-being, and establish comfortable sustainable lives.

Our schizophrenia treatment eliminates the need to self-medicate by helping people achieve mood stability, addressing imbalances within their brain chemistry, and providing lasting relief. Although schizophrenia is highly stigmatized, this is a lifelong issue that affects between 0.25 and 0.64 percent of people in the United States. More importantly, it is a treatable, manageable issue, and one that doesn’t have to stop those who live with it from achieving stability, sobriety, and peace. 

Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia causes a range of symptoms that affect a person’s:

  • Behavior
  • Cognitive abilities
  • Thoughts and perceptions

Although the signs of schizophrenia can vary from person to person, schizophrenia is recognized as having five primary or core symptoms. These are:

  • Disordered thinking and speech
  • Hallucinations
  • Highly abnormal motor behaviors
  • Delusions
  • Negative symptoms

The negative symptoms of schizophrenia represent the absence of actions, behaviors, and functions that are considered normal. A person is recognized as exhibiting negative symptoms when they cannot manage their own self-care. Negative symptoms also present when they show emotional numbness or a lack of emotion and when they cannot function in other basic ways. Speaking in a monotone voice and maintaining a static expression are both signs of negative schizophrenia symptoms

Disorganized speech with schizophrenia is often referred to as “word salad”. People with this disorder may produce long strings of words that have no cohesive or coherent meaning. This manner of speaking is reflective of the disorganization of their thoughts. When speech is less impaired, a person may ask or answer questions with statements or ideas that are unrelated or only partially related. 

Schizophrenic hallucinations can be all-encompassing. These experiences may be auditory, visual, olfactory, and even tactile. Due to their altered interpretation and perception of reality, people with schizophrenia may see, hear, feel, and even smell things that do not exist. 

Schizophrenia Risk Factors

The exact cause of schizophrenia is not known. However, researchers believe that this illness can be attributed to a number of environmental, genetic, and physiological factors. Schizophrenia has a very strong genetic component. However, genes alone are not responsible for developing schizophrenia.

Brain images of patients with schizophrenia have revealed variations in their:

  • Brain size
  • Brain functioning
  • Brain structure

Other risk factors for schizophrenia include:

  • Exposure to environmental toxins such as lead, gasoline, and certain plastics
  • Exposure to infections during gestation
  • Malnutrition during gestation or during a person’s early childhood years
  • Exposure to the herpes virus
  • Childhood history of abuse, neglect, or other forms of childhood trauma

How Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed?

Schizophrenia is diagnosed according to the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). For schizophrenia, patients must exhibit at least two of the five core symptoms of schizophrenia for at least one full month. Moreover, one of these symptoms must include disorganized speech, delusions, or hallucinations.

Before schizophrenia is diagnosed, both a medical examination and a comprehensive psychological evaluation are performed. Diagnostic imaging can be used to assess the brain’s structure and areas of high or low activity. Blood tests and other forms of laboratory analysis are used to learn more about the patient’s brain chemistry and to rule out other underlying illnesses that may be the cause of their symptoms. 

Great care is taken to ensure that schizophrenia is accurately diagnosed. There are several related conditions that can cause similar symptoms such as:

  • Brief psychotic disorder
  • Delusional disorder
  • Schizophreniform disorder
  • Schizoaffective disorder

Careful diagnosis is essential for ensuring effective treatment. The measures taken throughout the diagnostic process also make it possible for medical and mental health professionals to streamline treatment plans for meeting the needs of the individual.

Treating Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia and its treatment are largely tied to abnormalities in a person’s brain chemistry. Imbalances in neurochemicals or “brain chemicals” are exemplified by the way in which certain neurochemicals interact with drugs like PCP or methamphetamine to produce symptoms that closely mimic those of schizophrenia. Moreover, medications that block dopamine activity (one of many important neurochemicals) have consistently proven effective in minimizing the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Treatment for schizophrenia is always a multi-pronged and ongoing process, with medication being the cornerstone of these efforts. When the right combination of medications is prescribed, behaviors, thoughts, and actions normalize. As patients become able to participate, cognitive behavioral therapy and other psychotherapy types can help them adopt healthy world views. It can also improve self-esteem, and enhance problem-solving abilities among other things. 

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is often referred to as “talk therapy”. In both addiction treatment and treatment for co-occurring disorders (dual diagnosis treatment), psychotherapy is offered in various forms. Therapy sessions are held in both private settings and group settings, and can include:

  • Motivational interviewing
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an important therapy type for those living with schizophrenia. It helps patients develop effective reality testing skills, good general self-care, stress management techniques, healthy coping skills, improved communication skills, and evidence-based strategies for self-monitoring.

Group Counseling

Group counseling provides patients with the opportunity to grow their social and communication skills, share their experiences, and benefit from the experiences of others. In inpatient programs, group counseling sessions also make it easier for patients to prepare for the eventual return to the outside world.

Medication

Multiple medications are available for the treatment of schizophrenia. Patients may receive one or more typical or atypical antipsychotic medications. In dual addiction treatment, when necessary, some patients may additionally receive anti-depressant medications, antianxiety medications, or short-term sleep support. Among the most commonly prescribed antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia are:

  • Abilify
  • Vraylar
  • Latuda
  • Zyprexa
  • Seroquel
  • Risperdal
  • Geodon

Treatment for Schizophrenia at Absolute Awakenings

At Absolute Awakenings, we’re committed to helping our clients achieve and maintain mood balance and consistently optimum levels of mental health. By taking a multi-pronged and needs-specific approach to promoting mental wellness, we ensure that no treatment needs are overlooked. We know that both schizophrenia and effective schizophrenia treatment can look different for everyone. With ample treatment options in psychotherapy, psychoeducation, medical management, and whole-health care, we make it easy for people to get the targeted services and support they need.

Contact Us Today to Get Started

You don’t have to deal with the loneliness and distress of untreated schizophrenia any longer. This is a treatable, manageable condition, and one that doesn’t have to compromise your ability to live a happy and productive life. Get in touch with us at Absolute Awakenings today to get the compassionate, customized treatment you deserve!

Clinically Reviewed By: Candace Kotkin De Carvalho

Passionate about providing individualized treatment for clients of all backgrounds, Candace brings nearly a decade of hands-on experience to her role as the Clinical Director, having recently led the Alternative Recovery and Wellness program at Advanced Health & Education in Eatontown. A Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, a Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor, a Licensed Social Worker, a Certified Clinical Supervisor, and a Registered Yoga Teacher, Candace brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the organization.

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