The primary treatment for schizophrenia is antipsychotic medication. It can help individuals to manage their symptoms but it is not a cure. The older antipsychotic medications, called “first generation” were effective for positive symptoms and had serious side effects. Some side effects such as tardive dyskinesia can be irreversible. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is a rare but life threatening side effect. Examples of first generation antipsychotics are; Thorazine, Haldol, Stelazine and Prolixin. Haldol is still used in emergency situations because it can be given by injection and is fast acting. The older medications may be prescribed because of lower cost but the newer antipsychotic medications are generally considered safer and more effective. First prescribed in the 1990’s they are effective for both positive and negative symptoms. Geodon, Seroquel, Abilify and Risperdal are examples. These newer medications, called “atypical” or “second generation” can also cause significant side effects but less frequently. There is a high risk for weight gain and type II diabetes with the newer medications. Compliance with treatment is often a problem for people who have schizophrenia. They may not have insight about their need for treatment as noted in the previous section. They are usually unable to maintain employment in jobs that have insurance benefits. When faced with a choice between medication and food because of inadequate finances, they will choose food. Side effects such as obesity, sedation or restlessness, dizziness and sexual dysfunction can discourage people from taking their medication. When individuals stop taking medication they experience symptoms that can lead to hospitalization or legal problems.


This month’s civil & criminal topic is Schizophrenia. Topics covered are:

  • Case Scenario (8/4/14)
  • Symptoms and Diagnosis  (8/11/14)
  • Approach Considerations (8/18/14)
  • Medical Treatment Options (8/25/14)

Note: To see all posts in this topic, click here

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