Treatment of schizophrenia without drugs – reality or myth?

On Today is a very popular topic of non-medical treatment of various diseases. Often the same position can be found in relation to the treatment of such a complex disease as schizophrenia. Especially many supporters of this approach can be found on the Internet. We are neither in any way we can challenge the right of each person to choose the method of treatment (or do not choose any of the methods of treatment), but, in our opinion, before making such a decision, the person should get the most accurate information about all possible treatments his illness, prognosis and consequences of refusal of treatment. That is why we decided here to consider whether it is possible to treat schizophrenia without drugs, what are the consequences of refusing to use pharmaceuticals, and whether there is an objective possibility of treating schizophrenia with folk remedies. Here we will try to conduct an objective analysis of various methods of treatment of schizophrenia, as well as – the consequences of failure of any of them.                            

Why did the question arise about the need to abandon pharmacology in the treatment of schizophrenia?  

Argument: at the moment in Russia, as once in the West, the antipsychiatric movement is very fashionable, the supporters of which view psychiatrists as pests who maliciously lock absolutely healthy people in psychiatric hospitals, and popularize non-drug treatment of schizophrenia.        

Counter-argument 1. Indeed, the law provides for involuntary hospitalization of a person in a psychiatric hospital. But it is performed only when the patient’s condition threatens him or those around him, if he is helpless, or if he is not placed in a hospital, the condition will worsen.          

Counterargument 2. In most countries, and in Russia in particular, the state mental health care is free, it is for the expense of health insurance. The cost of inpatient treatment is too high for the state to be able to afford to keep healthy people in psychiatric hospitals in addition to the sick .          

Argument: schizophrenia appeared thousands of years ago, and in those days when they did not know pharmacology, patients, nevertheless, were somehow treated.      

Counter-argument: they really did. Until a certain time, schizophrenic patients were kept practically in prison conditions, behind bars and chained, or simply expelled away, and until the appearance of the first psychopharmacological drug in 1952, the only way to relieve psychotic excitement was to be tied to a bed.         

Any pharmacological treatment for schizophrenia causes more harm to the body than none?

Argument: a large number of side effects from drugs that have to be drunk by “handfuls” makes the patient’s life unbearable, and causes great harm.   

Counter-argument: at the moment, there are methods that can minimize the number and severity of side effects from drugs against schizophrenia. With the correct prescription of the drug, the patient, while taking the drug, can completely ignore its action and does not experience any inconvenience. The method of monotherapy makes it possible to limit the treatment of schizophrenia to only one (less often – two) drugs. And the control of the concentration of the drug in the blood makes it possible to determine as accurately as possible the dose required to achieve the effect, but, at the same time, not to exceed it. And no side effects from taking drugs are simply incomparable with the consequences of refusing them: the occurrence of each new acute episode of schizophrenia, which lasts more and more time and causes more harm, or – the danger of suicide of the patient .                       

When treating schizophrenia, can you limit yourself to non-pharmacological methods?

Argument: there are a large number of alternative methods of treating schizophrenia (for example, for hallucinations, “healers” recommend drinking a decoction of comfrey for 2 weeks with interruptions). It is possible to treat schizophrenia without medication, if, by interrupting the treatment, a person simply tries to “keep himself in hand”, and then there will be no relapse .         

Counter-argument: any sane person understands that it is impossible to cope with the disease in the acute stage of the course with folk remedies. And most often, a patient who first became ill with schizophrenia comes into the field of vision of a doctor in a state of acute psychosis. Sometimes, even when prescribing drug therapy, a long hospital stay is required (acute psychosis in schizophrenia lasts 6-8 weeks) for quality treatment and elimination of positive symptoms, which include, for example, hallucinations. And the development of the disease itself, its exacerbation and progression, alas, in no way depends on the desire, the will of the patient himself.                   

This does not mean at all that a person who once became ill with schizophrenia will have to take pharmacological drugs for life. But with the manifestation of the disease, or after a repeated acute episode, treatment of schizophrenia without drugs is simply impossible and dangerous. Yes, there are non-drug treatments for schizophrenia, but they only “work” in combination. Both psychotherapy and cognitive, social trainings, instrumental therapy are effective when combined with pharmacotherapy.        

Thus, schizophrenia, not being up to the end of the study, a complex disease with biopsychosocial origin, is treatable. But this treatment should work, target all three determinants (causes). That is, take into account biological, psychological, social factors.      

It is impossible to do without pharmacological therapy, but and socialization (in including, vocational rehabilitation), preventing isolation, full in-patient treatment, the structuring of time, physical activity and support the patient’s family as well is very important.     

You can choose a clinic for the full treatment of schizophrenia by reading the reviews. 

It is the full consideration of all these factors that makes it possible to provide assistance to patients with schizophrenia.

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