​​Can Schizophrenia Be Cured?

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Approximately 1 in 200 people in the United States is affected by schizophrenia, a chronic brain condition. Schizophrenia is classified as a type of illness known as psychosis, which means it affects a person’s thoughts, feelings, and actions, and that a person may have trouble distinguishing between what’s real and what isn’t.

When a person’s schizophrenia is active, they may experience symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disordered speech and behavior. These symptoms typically start to appear in early adulthood. They can be extremely distressing for the person as well as their loved ones. 

Schizophrenia is a complicated condition and its causes aren’t fully understood. However, researchers are working to better understand its causes by examining the brain, studying genetics, and conducting behavioral research.

Can Schizophrenia Be Cured?

There is no cure for schizophrenia as yet; however, treatment can significantly reduce the symptoms. Schizophrenia can be treated with a combination of medication and therapy, says Deepak D'Souza, MD, a psychiatry professor at Yale School of Medicine.

Schizophrenia can be managed just like other chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis, says Dr. D’Souza.

Since the causes of schizophrenia aren’t fully understood, treatment is currently focused on reducing the symptoms and improving day-to-day functioning. Research is underway to develop safer and more effective treatment modalities that can also address the causes of the condition.

Treatment for schizophrenia lasts years and may even be lifelong, says Dr. D’Souza. He says recovery in schizophrenia can vary. For instance, he explains that some people may achieve a high degree of recovery and their symptoms may go away completely, allowing them to lead productive and fulfilling lives; whereas others may be functionally impaired or have residual symptoms.

Diagnosing the condition and treating it early can help improve treatment outcomes. If left untreated, schizophrenia can persist and become disabling.

Medication to Manage Schizophrenia

People with mild schizophrenia may not need to take medication. However, people with moderate to severe symptoms may need to take medication to manage their condition. These are the types of medication that can help treat schizophrenia.

Antipsychotic Medication

Antipsychotic medication is the primary form of treatment for schizophrenia. It can help address the symptoms of psychosis, says Dr. D’Souza.

Antipsychotic medication can:

  • Stop or reduce symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and confusion
  • Reduce feelings of aggression and anxiety
  • Enable the person to distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t
  • Promote clear thinking
  • Reduce or prevent episodes of acute schizophrenia

Antipsychotic medication can be taken daily in liquid or pill form, or in depot injectable forms that are given every two to four weeks. These medicines work by blocking the action of the neurotransmitter dopamine on the brain. They can take a few days or weeks to reduce the symptoms of psychosis.

It’s important for people to take their medication as prescribed by their healthcare provider, even if they no longer have symptoms, as symptoms may reappear upon stopping the medication. Any persistent symptoms or side effects should be reported to the person's healthcare provider, so they can adjust the medication as needed.

Side effects of antipsychotic medication can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Restlessness 

Non-Psychotic Medication

In addition to antipsychotic medication, the person’s healthcare provider may also prescribe non-psychotic medication such as antidepressants or mood stabilizers to help treat other symptoms of schizophrenia, such as depression, social withdrawal, and lack of emotion, interest, and motivation.

Therapy to Treat Schizophrenia

Therapy can help people with schizophrenia cope with their symptoms, identify early warning signs of relapse, manage stress, develop social skills, and distinguish between what’s real and what isn’t. 

These are some of the forms of therapy that may be helpful in treating schizophrenia:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which can help the person identify hallucinations or delusional thoughts and prevent them from acting on them. For instance, someone who sees a hallucination of insects crawling across the wall can learn to realize that it’s probably not real if others in the room are not reacting to it.
  • Family therapy, which can help family members cope with their loved one’s condition and work together to care for the person and find practical solutions to day-to-day problems.
  • Supportive therapy, which can improve the person’s self-esteem, address negative thinking, and help them cope with challenges and stressors.
  • Social skills training, which can help people build their social skills and be more confident.
  • Art therapy, which can help people express themselves creatively and relate to others through artistic mediums.
  • Support groups, which can help people connect with others who are living with the same condition.

Coping With Schizophrenia

These are some strategies that can help people cope with schizophrenia, according to Dr. D’Souza:

  • Avoid factors that aggravate the condition, such as significant psychological stress and substances such as alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine.
  • Lead a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining consistent mealtimes and bedtimes.
  • Seek the support of friends and family, and engage with the community.
  • Maintain regular contact with a mental healthcare provider.
  • Participate in rehabilitation programs that provide education, vocational training, structured activities, life skills, and job opportunities.
  • Maintain an optimistic outlook and stay positive.

A Word From Verywell

There is no cure for schizophrenia, despite over a century of research on the condition. However, like other chronic health conditions, it can be managed with treatment methods such as medication and therapy. Treatment can help people with schizophrenia work or attend school, pursue their life goals, and build relationships.

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2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. George M, Maheshwari S, Chandran S, Manohar JS, Sathyanarayana Rao TS. Understanding the schizophrenia prodrome. Indian J Psychiatry. 2017;59(4):505-509. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_464_17

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