Published On: November 23, 2021
Reviewed On: November 23, 2021
Updated On: July 17, 2023
Schizophrenia is a complicated, chronic neuropsychiatric disorder (brain disorder) that affects how you feel, think, and behave. Less than 1% of people in the United States have schizophrenia, and its exact cause isn’t known. While there isn’t a cure for schizophrenia, understanding as much as possible about it can help with both treatment and learning to manage the disorder.
Schizophrenia treatment can greatly improve most, if not all, symptoms. Effective treatment also reduces the likelihood of a recurrence of negative symptoms.
Schizophrenia medications — like antipsychotics and other meds — when combined with psychological treatments — like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and other psychotherapy (also known as talk therapy) techniques — work together to significantly reduce symptoms.
Keep reading to learn more about meds for schizophrenia. We’re discussing everything you need to know, including how they work, what side effects may occur, and how to get medication to treat schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia medication names can be confusing because there are so many of them. By looking closely at each of the different medications to treat schizophrenia, it’s easier to find the right type for you and your symptoms.
Antipsychotics are schizophrenia medications that are often prescribed to treat psychosis. They’re the first-line treatment and work on chemicals in the brain like dopamine and serotonin. Antipsychotics can reduce some common schizophrenia symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. They can be taken in the middle of an episode to quickly stop psychosis, or they can also be taken long-term as a preventative.
There are two types of antipsychotics: atypical and typical.
Known as second-generation antipsychotics, atypical antipsychotics are often the first type of medication prescribed to treat schizophrenia. This is due to a lower overall risk of serious side effects associated with most of them. However, they might increase the risk of hyperglycemia and weight gain, which can result in diabetes.
Typical antipsychotics are an older group of medications to treat schizophrenia. These first-generation meds might still be quite effective in managing some of the symptoms of schizophrenia, but they’re known to cause both short- and long-term side effects. Most often, typical antipsychotics are only prescribed when other meds for schizophrenia have not proven effective.
Antidepressants are sometimes prescribed to people with symptoms of depression in addition to schizophrenia. Antidepressants work by affecting the brain chemicals linked to our emotions. Most often, a specific group of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) is the type of antidepressant prescribed to treat schizophrenia.
Mood stabilizers typically aren’t the first line of treatment for schizophrenia. However, they might be considered in certain cases. Mood stabilizers work by balancing your mood, so you’re less likely to experience anxiety, depression, or even excitement.
The following list of medications to treat schizophrenia is meant to help you understand the available options.
|Abilify||Aripiprazole||Atypical antipsychotic||Used to treat schizophrenia and other disorders like bipolar disorder and depression. Can also help with irritability.|
|Risperdal||Risperidone||Atypical antipsychotic||Works in the brain to treat specific mental and mood disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.|
|Zyprexa||Olanzapine||Atypical antipsychotic||Helps restore the balance of natural substances in the brain to treat disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar.|
|Haldol||Haloperidol||Typical antipsychotic||Works in the brain and is a first-generation antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia. It rebalances dopamine to improve symptoms.|
|Loxitane||Loxapine||Typical antipsychotic||Another first-generation antipsychotic, also works in the brain and restores balances of dopamine levels.|
|Celexa||Citalopram||Antidepressant||Has been shown effective in reducing depressive symptoms in schizophrenia or in treating first-episode schizophrenia (FES).|
|Zoloft||Sertraline||Antidepressant||Used to treat depression related to schizophrenia. It can take several weeks before any real benefits are felt or seen.|
|Latuda||Lurasidone||Atypical antipsychotic||Works in the brain to treat symptoms of schizophrenia but is a second-generation antipsychotic that rebalances serotonin and dopamine in the brain.|
|Lamictal||Lamotrigine||Mood stabilizer||Might be able to prevent some psychotic symptoms induced by NMDA receptor antagonists to treat symptoms of schizophrenia.|
|Lithium||Mood stabilizer||Works to stabilize mood and is often used as an add-on treatment in addition to antipsychotics to treat schizophrenia. Might reduce both depressive and manic symptoms.|
Talk to your psychiatrist or healthcare professional about the possible risks and benefits associated with the above medications before starting treatment.
Finding the right medication for schizophrenia is part of managing it. Even if you’re already seeking treatment through therapy, it can be a good idea to reach out to your doctor or psychiatrist to discuss your options. In case you can’t visit your psychiatrist in person and need a prescription, you can reach out to a licensed online psychiatrist to get you the medication you need.
One of the first things you should consider is how any medication might affect you. Candid conversations with your doctor or psychiatrist can ensure you’re learning everything you need to know about potential schizophrenia medications. This way, you’ll be confident in your decision if you begin taking any specific type of medication. You can also have discussions with your doctor about medication adherence and medication nonadherence in case there are unique situations that prevent you from taking medicine as initially prescribed by your doctor.
To get meds for schizophrenia, complete the following steps:
If you’re considering treating your schizophrenia with medication, it’s important to think about all the pros and cons of your decision. Your doctor can help you make the right choice by fully explaining each of the benefits of medication along with all the side effects.
Once you’ve gotten answers to these questions and have decided if you want to seek medication for schizophrenia, get connected with a licensed prescriber at Talkspace.
Dr. Muhammad Munir, MD, DFAPA, has over 20 years of clinical experience specializing in mood disorders, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, PTSD, panic disorder, and ADHD. Dr. Munir believes in “back to basics” the therapeutic alliance between the physician and patients. The hallmark of this alliance is the emphatic process whereby the patient is not only enabled, but educated and encouraged, to take an active role in their psychiatric care and wellbeing.