Schizophrenia is arguably the most misunderstood mental illness and schizophrenia treatments are similarly feared. Many who suffer from anxiety or have seemingly psychotic episodes fear being labeled as schizophrenic because little is known about the disease or its treatments in the general public.
Many myths and stigmas surround schizophrenia, making it a debilitating disorder with outrageous symptoms that leave suffers incapable of living a full and productive life. There is a startling number of misdiagnosis, particularly among African-Americans who have notoriously faced misdiagnosis due to racial disparities.
For a long time, the public had a fear of talking about schizophrenia which has kept schizophrenia treatments from moving forward. Luckily, more schizophrenics and their loved ones are coming forward to talk candidly about the disease, and even more people are coming forward to address treatments.
Old Versus New Schizophrenia Treatments
Previously, treatments ranged from anti-psychotics and shock therapy to long-term psych-ward confinement. Antipsychotics often result in nasty side effects like tics, tremors, muscle spasms, dizziness, dry mouth, weight gain, and seizures. They also came with high costs to those who are are not covered, although now all states offer prescription drug coverage to Medicaid recipients, including those dually eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid.
It is only recently that alternative treatments have been gaining in popularity — as research is steadily bolstering their validity. The alternative schizophrenia treatments that exist have made it possible for many schizophrenics to integrate into society and enjoy life again, free from fear and judgement. Natural cures are about studying root issues and old traumas rather than use of traditional techniques that often cover up symptoms and leave patients dissatisfied.
It’s important to consult a medical, psychological, or holistic professional before applying any of alternative techniques. Non-mainstream treatments are not suitable for all candidates.
6 Alternative Schizophrenia Treatments
Let’s have a look at some alternative treatments that have caught the attention of psychologists and patients alike.
1. Nutrient Deficiencies
Scientists and psychology researchers have found that schizophrenia might be the direct result of vitamin deficiency. According to studies, nutritional deficiency can spur schizophrenia along with heavy metal toxicity, an allergic reaction to gluten, and a B12 deficiency.
Specifically, B vitamins and folate deficiencies have been listed as those which lead the brain into schizophrenic territory — as well as low levels of vitamins C and E. Others have named a lack of vitamin D, early on in childhood development, as the cause for schizophrenia.
Glycine has been listed as an effective supplement for some as an antipsychotic drug treatment.
3. Going Gluten-Free
Gluten-free diets have been recommended to aid in diminishing psychosis, since research has discovered a link between gluten and schizophrenia. Excessive gluten consumption has been said to increase neurological and psychiatric problems, yet further studies must be conducted.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a burgeoning alternative to, if not a replacement for, schizophrenia medication. CBT facilitates the collaboration between thoughts, feelings, and actions, in an attempt to find harmony between the three. The focus is on revealing the connection between thought patterns and behavior changes (the way patients respond to stress, emotions, and external stimuli). In the therapy sessions, patients break down problems into manageable, digestible pieces that can be evaluated and solved. It’s about observing and not reacting immediately. This gives patients a sense of autonomy, freedom, and power with which they can use to control their thoughts and behaviors. The goal is to build new habits; ones full of positivity and hope.
When discussing the symptoms, one should first consider each patient on an individual basis. No two patients are alike. Just as a psychologist or therapist would treat depression on a separate and individual basis, the same should apply to schizophrenic counseling. In order for CBT or CT to be really successful, professionals must listen to what patients require or demand; from well-being to reconnecting to family or friends, goals for recovery are as divergent as the cause for the disease itself. The goal is for doctors and patients to discover the root causes of the psychotic episodes and help bring healing and harmony to those issues.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been in use for over 2,000 years; it should come as no surprise that it has treated a wide range of ailments and mental illnesses. Some studies have concluded that, in conjunction with Western medicine, TCM has great potential to decrease the symptoms and even help fix the causes of schizophrenia.
TCM claims that mental illnesses are derived from four states: withdrawal, mania, epilepsy, and feeble-mindedness. Therefore, diagnosis is as important as the treatment itself. Once a patient has been given a proper diagnosis, appropriate TCM can be applied, which includes mostly plant-based materials and various roots. With a thorough analysis of the four states, a specialist can then pinpoint that which is lacking or in abundance and aim to balance homeostasis; all with natural supplements.
The latest schizophrenia treatment on the market is Cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabinoid has already been proven to assist patients suffering from a wide-range of disease and illnesses, including glaucoma, diabetes, anxiety, sleep disorders, and cancer. The cannabis plant is taking the world by storm; and rightly so as it’s organic and derived from natural sources, making side effects few and far between.
“While in general there is little data to support use of CBD by itself, there is data on using it as monotherapy for anxiety and psychosis,” says Dr. Jordan Tishler a leading expert in the fields of cannabis therapeutics.
Dosage requires some finesse, too; proper application must be made more prevalent. Dr. Jordan Tishler addresses this point, “However, what is not generally understood is that the doses needed to be effective are 20 times what is commonly available outside the laboratory. Doses of 800-1200 mg per day were typical. This is prohibitively expensive in the real world at present.”
It must be noted, marijuana contains both THC and CBD; however, it’s the CBD that leads researchers to believe antipsychotic drugs might be replaced in the future. Whereas THC induces psychotic episodes, CBD controls or diminishes them. CBD has no psychoactive properties.
CBD works well with the body’s anandamide, a naturally occurring endocannabinoid. When the body produces higher levels of endocannabinoids, psychosis is reduced significantly and the onset of further psychotic episodes decreases. While the relationship between the two needs to be studied further, researchers from all over the globe have witnessed the power of this pairing. CBD has brought on a decrease in schizophrenic hallucinations. Even children have been using CBD to manage visual and auditory hallucinations.
A Holistic Approach
Rossa Forbes, who goes by a pseudonym, is a pioneer who has found that holistic recovery for her schizophrenic son has made a world of difference:
For decades, we have been influenced by the medical model of the ‘illness’ to such an extent that the vast majority of people believe what doctors and the pharmaceutical companies are telling us: Schizophrenia is a brain disease, a biochemical imbalance. It’s only a matter of time before we get the science right. Many psychologists forced themselves into line with that thinking because it was politically incorrect not to.
She is passionate about her work and writes candidly about her experience helping her schizophrenic son find balance on her blog, Holistic Recovery from Schizophrenia: A Mother and Son Journey and memoir, The Scenic Route: A Way through Madness.
When asked about her approach to alternative schizophrenia treatments she mentioned:
Nutritional supplements, yoga, meditation, singing, creative arts, the Alexander Technique, Family Constellation Therapy, sound therapy, martial arts, the list can be endless. Even speaking kindly to someone in deep personal distress and learning how to share in their worldview as a show of support would be considered ‘alternative’ by the medical system. All of the alternative treatments my son tried were easy to apply because he was willing to do them, and they were non-invasive.
All these alternative therapies “compete with the notion that there is a biochemical imbalance in the brain.”
Changing Perceptions For More Effective Schizophrenia Treatments
Natural schizophrenic treatments address underlying causes of the disorder rather than mask symptoms. It’s a revolution that might be starting slowly, but the wheels are in motion — which is a huge step in and of itself. And with more awareness, we can rewire our perceptions of schizophrenia and alleviate the crippling symptoms of this disease.
Jacklyn Janksela is a freelance writer who is also a poet, painter, & musician. She writes about art @CultureDesigners, relationships @TheTalko, body image @TheWittyBitches, & sexuality @Thrillist. See her work at the following places: Femalefilet, ArtMugre , and The Velblouds. She’s known as Jacklyn La Polita Janeksela on Facebook; and she is vegan.
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