Our Readers' Lives with Schizophrenia

Chapter 8. Treatment

Updated: Oct. 24, 2000



Reba, mother of Eric:
Trying to find the most appropriate medication with few side effects has been a real problem to my son. Sometimes he feels like the doctors do not take his side effects seriously.

I have been on Zyprexa for a year and a half. It took a while to find the right medication. It has helped a lot with the paranoia, and my speech is coherent, at least online, but in real life you can tell that I was hebephrenic. The symptoms still linger and

Zyprexa is a very good medication although I don't like the weight gain it brought on me.

[Feb. 1, 2000]
Dopamine must be rampant in the brain perhaps by some failure of connection (regulation). I am currently on Haldol (Generic version - Haloperidol), Neurontin, and Wellbutrin for Depression. I have a diagnosis of Bipolar (Manic Depression) since the breakdown 16 years ago. Thank God that we have survived all that time!

[Mar. 2000]
I tried six different antipsychotics over the last six years and I am now on an older antipsychotic called Trilafon. I have very little side-effects and the drug is working really well for me. I also tried the newer drugs like Risperdal but it did not work for me. I used to also take antidepressants, Anafranil and a sedative called Seresta, but now there is no longer the need to take them. I am now on Trilafon for two years and it is still working great.

[Apr. 2000]
The antipsychotic medications control the symptoms of my illness. The older ones control only the positive symptoms and also have bad side effects; (tremors, cramps, muscle spasms, etc.) The newer ones are supposed to control both the positive and negative symptoms, and have fewer side effects. The older ones I've been on are Chlorpromazine, Trilafon, Stelazine (Trifluoperazine), and Mellaril (as a child). The newer ones I've been on are Risperidone and Olanzapine (Zyprexa).

When I worked as a blacksmith I was on Stelazine, it worked the best of the older ones for me. It took 2 years on it before I could function well.

The newer one I'm on now is Zyprexa. It seems to be working fine, now that we have the dosage right. It's very expensive and I needed special authorization to get it and get it paid for. I hope it gives me a new lease on life.

I had bad physical problems with the Risperidone, (liquid stool, tremors, stiffness, poor perceptual judgement, motor functions, and total lack of sexual ability).

[Apr. 27, 2000]
I've been on Seroquel, Zyprexa, and Risperdal. All of them caused lots of side effects in me, especially Zyprexa. Currently I am on a very low dose of Risperdal to try and stop my symptoms while avoiding side effects.

[Sept. 24, 2000]
Medication has recently changed from the older type of anti-psychotic (chlorpromazine), to the more esteemed Risperidone (4 mg), which I have found more manageable. I take one pill a day in relation to taking four x 100 mg (chlorpromazine). My antidepressant is still the same (venlafaxine) x 1, 150 mg a day, and one injection (depixol), 100 mg per week.

[Oct. 19, 2000]
My son was put on Risperdal and some antidepressants on top of the medicine he was already on. The doctor says he is on the maximum amount, 6mg a day.

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Supportive Therapy (Club Houses, Psychiatric Day Programs)

Reba, mother of Eric:
Eric has been participating in a day program now for several months. This helps Eric stay on track and gives him something to do that is structured. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to be supportive to the individual who is sick -- for they have a tremendous battle to fight a daily struggle within their own mind just to survive. I am grateful and appreciative to those in the medical profession that are helping my son in a positive environment.

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What was your experience with Electroconvulsive Therapy?

[Feb. 28, 2000]
I had 10 ECT treatments last year because the voices in my head kept telling me I was evil and therefore had to kill myself. Personally, the worst part of the whole episode was the ECT itself. I have no memory of the first 6 months of 1999. I can't remember what I did, who I met, anything. I had the ECT as a voluntary patient, and I signed the consent forms because I believed ECT was a just form of punishment for someone as evil as myself. No one bothered to ask me why I wanted to have ECT! And no-one has since been much interested in talking about my memory loss and the frustrations that go along with that. Please, please, please think very carefully about agreeing to have ECT. It does appear to work wonderfully for some people, but definitely not for others (like me).

[Aug. 8, 2000]
I had 6 ECT treatments over the course of 2 weeks. I reportedly was cheerful and very functional for 2 weeks after the ECT. Too bad I missed this "break through" because of a loss of memory. After getting out of the hospital after the ECT, I needed constant care for several weeks as I would forget if I turned on the stove, or forget where I was or how to get back. After the two weeks of becoming "normal" I became very suicidal again.

I would caution people about the effects of ECT, though maybe the people who it has helped aren't writing about their experience. Three years later I still have problems with my memory, though it is difficult to sort out whether this is caused by ECT, the medications or the illness.

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If you have also seen a psychologist during your illness, have you noticed any difference in the treatment between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

[Feb. 1, 2000]
It seems that a psychologist knows how to contemplate my feelings and inject them into real life terms based on what has happened with me. He also studies my mannerisms, facial expression, body posture, inflections, etc.

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Drug Holiday

Have you ever had a drug holiday, a period when you are off drugs, and if so, what was the outcome?

[Feb. 1, 2000]
A total disillusionment of self control. Not making the grade with thought, thoughts running too fast, no concentration, no organization or very little, I would say 5% at best. Irritability, combustibility, explosion of reaction verbally, not physically. Now, when faced with a tough problem with an unfamiliar solution, it's either fight (verbally), or flight (physically). Quite a process to find a way to relax.

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