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For Adults Living With Schizophrenia

Understanding Your Mental Health

Mental health treatment is an ongoing process, not a single outcome. There are ups and downs along the way, but it is important to be hopeful. Everyone’s treatment process will look slightly different, but there will be similar steps.

Medications for schizophrenia are called antipsychotics, and although they don’t cure schizophrenia, they can help control symptoms if taken as prescribed. There are a couple of ways that medications vary.

How do I take medication?

  • Injection: Given by a healthcare professional, and the medication is gradually released for a specific period of time between doses
  • Oral: Pill or liquid taken once or multiple times a day

When were these schizophrenia medications first used?

  • First generation: Introduced in the 1950s
  • Second generation: Introduced more recently, in the 1990s

While medication can help control symptoms, counseling can help you understand symptoms and learn better ways to communicate with others. There are 2 kinds of counseling that you might find useful.

Psychotherapy is a talk therapy that can help you better understand symptoms and how to manage them. There are three types:

  • Individual therapy: Learn how to deal with thoughts and behaviors 
  • Cognitive behavior therapy: Learn how to change thoughts and behaviors
  • Cognitive enhancement therapy: Learn how to better organize thoughts, recognize social cues, and improve attention and memory 

Psychotherapy therapy comes after you see some improvement during psychotherapy sessions, and you want to learn how to work better within your community in various ways: 

  • Skills training to improve communication and interaction 
  • Job counseling, money management, and problem-solving support
  • Family education to help your support system 
  • Community treatment to proactively prevent crises
  • Help with setting and achieving goals

Both medication and counseling can help control symptoms and develop a greater understanding of how to deal with them, but there are a few important things that you can do to navigate your treatment journey.

  • Have a positive attitude, even when it may be difficult
  • Stay active, and exercise to help manage stress and keep your body moving. Talk to your healthcare professional before starting an exercise regimen
  • Help your body work its very best by getting plenty of sleep, eating healthy foods, and avoiding drugs and alcohol
  • Stay connected to your friends and family 
  • Set goals to work toward—short-term and long-term goals can keep you focused and moving forward.
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Tips for Treatment

Staying on track with your treatment process can be difficult sometimes, but it's important to stay positive and find the support you need to get through any challenging times that come up. Here are a few other tips to help you stay on track.

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Lean on your support system, and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

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Keep a record of your treatment, medication(s), and health history.

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Take medication regularly as your treatment team prescribes, and go to all of your appointments.

The Treatment Process

Mental health treatment is an ongoing process, not a single outcome. There are ups and downs along the way, but it is important to be hopeful. Everyone’s treatment process will look slightly different, but there will be similar steps.

Understand Your Condition

The more you know about your condition, the more you can do about it. Gaining deeper knowledge about schizophrenia can help you understand the different types of medication that can treat it and better recognize symptoms and early signs of an episode, so you know when to talk to your treatment team to get help.

Follow Your Treatment Plan

Your treatment team works with you to put together a treatment plan based on what will benefit you the most.

It typically includes 3 components:

  • Staying on medication even if you’re feeling better, since stopping medication—or not taking it exactly as your healthcare professional instructs—could cause symptoms to return
  • Looking after your overall health by doing things like getting a yearly physical examination, quitting unhealthy habits like smoking or drinking, and making sure you have a daily routine that includes a healthy diet and exercise
  • Feeling supported by taking advantage of mental health resources, like talking with a therapist and local community programs

Recognize and Manage Episodes

Experiencing an episode

An episode can be an uncertain time for someone living with schizophrenia. It is defined as a relapse of symptoms after a person has received a diagnosis and has been feeling better for a period of time on treatment. Schizophrenia is an unpredictable mental health condition, and an episode can be scary for the person experiencing it and their loved ones. However, you are not alone.

Because schizophrenia symptoms can be triggered by events in daily life, an episode can happen even if you are taking your medicine correctly. To make sure you get help as early as possible, it's important for your caregiver and you to learn 10 recognizable early signs and alert your healthcare professional as soon as you see them. The sooner early warning signs of an episode are recognized, the sooner healthcare professionals can help treat it. Some things to watch for include:

  • Restlessness
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble with thinking and concentration
  • Worrying
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Lack of energy, slowness
  • Poor work performance
  • Social withdrawal, distrust
  • Social withdrawal, communication

Set Goals

You can set your own goals and work toward them in your own way, which means you get to decide what success looks and feels like. Goals can be short term or long term, small or large, and can change over time–there are no right or wrong goals. What matters is that your goals are important to you and are things that you want to accomplish in your life. Starting with small goals is a great way to gain momentum and work toward larger and more long-term ones.

Relying on Your Treatment Team

Maye is a volunteer with the SHARE Network, a volunteer program dedicated to helping adults living with schizophrenia share their personal health stories.

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Episode Action Plan

Looking for a way to record warning signs? Download the Episode Action Plan Worksheet.

Download Worksheet

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Treatment Health Plan

For recommendations and help setting and achieving your goals, download the Treatment Plan Worksheet.

Download Worksheet

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Your Treatment Team

Individual Care Team

Your treatment journey requires some planning, resources, and help along the way from a dedicated team of people. You may have some or all of these people on your own team:



In charge of diagnosing and prescribing medication to help you manage your mental health symptoms.



Provide primary, specialty, and acute care to you, including diagnoses, prescribing medication, and managing treatment plans.

Primary Care Providers


A specialist in family medicine, general internal medicine, or general pediatrics who provides care to patients at the point of first contact, and takes continuing responsibility for providing the patient's comprehensive care.



Talk with you to help you and your team determine a treatment plan for your mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.



Help your psychiatrist and other healthcare professionals with clinical observations and medication.



Help you understand what certain medications do, how they are taken, and their potential side effects.



Talk with you to help work through emotional and behavioral concerns.

Case Managers


Help coordinate your medical and mental healthcare and other support services.

Social Workers


Understand the specific needs of living with schizophrenia and can help you get access to resources.

Community Care Team

A community care team is made up of people who can help you stay out of the hospital and engaged with your community.

  • Peer counselors who are also living with schizophrenia and can share their experience with you
  • Support groups that bring together people who are also living with schizophrenia so that you can all share experiences and exchange coping strategies
  • Professionals who can provide you with training that can help you find and keep a job, manage everyday tasks like laundry and cooking, and communicate more effectively

Caregiver Team

Caregivers are in a unique position to help you in a variety of ways:


for you by communicating with healthcare professionals.


themselves about schizophrenia and help you look out for early signs of an episode.


with everyday tasks to keep your treatment journey on track.


with the rest of your treatment team by going with you to doctor appointments, taking notes, and helping handle paperwork for insurance.

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Treatment Team Contact List

There are a lot of important people to keep track of, and it can be helpful to have them all in one spot.

Download Worksheet

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