The management of schizophrenia has two main aims: first, to
effectively treat the illness as safely and rapidly as possible; and
second, to provide back-up support and counselling to the patient and his/her family, as and when appropriate.
The management of schizophrenia may appear somewhat complex, but one must take into account the seriously disabling nature of this illness and the potentially very damaging consequences it may have on the affected individual and their families.
Hospital admission is usually indicated. Symptoms of the acute illness are frequently associated with behaviour disturbances, so that a high level of care and supervision is needed. (Occasionally it is possible to manage a less disturbed patient at home providing the family is supportive and community psychiatric facilities are readily available near the patient's home).
Support and information to relatives is an important aspect of managing schizophrenia, particularly if this is the first illness episode and the patient is still living with the family. Misconceptions and prejudices about severe psychotic illnesses that are very common in the population and need to be corrected and the families need help to cope with the disease of their beloved one.
At least a half of those patients having an episode of acute
schizophrenia will be left with some degree of disability, after hospital admission has addressed with appropriate treatment the acute phase of the disease. It is important to rehabilitate the patient to his/her best possible level of functioning to prevent recurrences of the acute illness.
Usually, rehabilitation and long-term care will be provided close to the patient's home within a community care program, and medications will need to be continued for at least two or three years after major symptoms have disappeared.