Treatment requires a combination of medication, psychological counseling and social support.
The major medications used to treat schizophrenia are called antipsychotics. They are generally effective for treating the positive symptoms of schizophrenia. If a medication does help, it is important to continue it even after symptoms get better. Without medication, there is a good chance that psychosis will return. Each recurring episode may be worse.
Psychosocial treatment is also essential. These treatments are given in addition to, not instead of, medications. The goal is to provide ongoing emotional and practical support, education about the illness, and perspective on the symptoms of the illness. Therapists may provide advice about managing relationships and health. And they may teach skills to improve functioning and orientation to reality.
There are many types of psychosocial treatments. One approach is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Employment with on-the-job support and mental health services can also help.
Dr. Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School