Your patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder may have questions at any time. Encourage them to talk to their mental health prescriber about any questions they have, especially about medications, symptoms, side effects, and recovery. The more engaged they are in their care, the more likely they will keep up with it. As a member of the treatment team, you can help your patients raise their concerns and communicate their needs.
Schizophrenia medications work by delaying relapses. Some medications, such as tablets or capsules, are taken orally by patients and are quickly absorbed by the body. Other medications, such as short- and long-acting injectables, are injected by a treatment team member every 2 weeks, monthly, or less frequently, meaning the medication is released more slowly into the body over time.
This will depend on what type of medication you are taking. One important factor to keep in mind while taking any medication is symptoms. Are symptoms getting better or worse? Talk to a prescriber about what you should be looking for and what to watch out for as well. Monitoring how you are feeling over time may help your prescriber make dose adjustments accordingly.
Oral medications, such as tablets, capsules, or oral solutions can be taken once a day or more frequently. Long-acting injectable medications (LAIs) need to be administered by a treatment team member during an appointment every 2 weeks, monthly, or less frequently. Short-acting injectable medications (SAIs) are usually used in crisis situations. Learn more about LAIs and other medications in the Treatment Options section.
Shots or injections can cause some discomfort and injection site reactions. You may have to weigh the pros and cons of the medication as well. If you are still uncomfortable about getting injections, try engaging in a calming or distracting activity during the injection, like listening to music or trying a relaxation exercise.
How often a medication needs to be taken depends on the type of medication. An oral medication is usually taken every day. Injectable medications need to be administered less frequently because the medication gets absorbed slowly in the body. Some people like long-acting injectable medication because they don’t have to remember to take medication every day.
You should always discuss your concerns or questions about side effects with your mental health prescriber and treatment team members. Side effects depend on what kind of medication(s) you’re taking. Talk to a prescriber about side effects, what to expect, and what to watch out for. Weighing side effects and symptoms is an important part of managing mental health conditions.
Conditions like schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder require life-long treatment with medication. There is no cure for schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, but both are treatable with medication. Talking through your long-term goals may also help inform what type of treatment(s) you need.
You can reach out to anyone on your treatment team if you have questions! A prescriber, nurse, counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist, peer counselor, and/or therapist can answer questions and offer support.
In the short term, you need to work with your treatment team to find a medication that works to control symptoms. For the long term, you can work with them to add supportive treatments such as supportive housing and employment or other needs depending on your goals. You can also talk to peer counselors or case managers about housing options, long-term health care, higher education, and employment.