Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that interferes with a person’s thoughts, emotions, behavior, and ability to relate to others. People with schizophrenia experience delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking. They may also have a flat affect, cognitive difficulties, and trouble experiencing happiness. Schizophrenia is characterized as a psychotic disorder because the symptoms reflect a loss of contact with reality, and it is considered the most chronic and debilitating mental illness.
Left untreated, schizophrenia can lead to a a number of problems and complications, including depression, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicide. Fortunately, schizophrenia is highly treatable. With the right combination of medication, psychotherapy, and other supportive services, it is possible for a person with schizophrenia to live a healthy, productive life.
Outpatient treatment options for schizophrenia
Medication and psychotherapy are essential components of any schizophrenia treatment program. Together, they help the individual manage the psychotic symptoms, function in daily life, and cope with challenges as they arise.
Inpatient treatment for schizophrenia is sometimes necessary when the individual experiences a psychotic episode that makes them a danger to self or others. Severe delusions, suicidal ideation, and problems with drugs or alcohol may also require round-the-clock psychiatric supervision. But in most cases, when the symptoms are less severe, outpatient treatment for schizophrenia can lead to effective symptom management and long-term stabilization. Outpatient treatment is also a good option for those who are transitioning out of a residential treatment program.
There are several different outpatient treatment options for schizophrenia. Determining the right one for the individual depends on the severity of their symptoms and their ability to function independently. These include:
- Partial hospitalization (PHP) – The most intensive level of outpatient treatment, partial hospitalization involves structured programming 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The individual spends evenings and weekends at home. This is a good option for those whose symptoms are more severe and who require daily assistance in day-to-day functioning.
- Intensive outpatient (IOP) – Less restrictive than PHP, intensive outpatient treatment involves more flexible programming, usually 3 hours a day, 3 to 4 days a week. The individual can choose a treatment schedule that works around their work or school commitments. IOP works best for those who have strong support systems in place and are able to function independently but still want a significant amount of weekly support to help manage their symptoms and stay on track.
- Psychotherapy – Once the individual has stabilized sufficiently and no longer needs the structured environment of an intensive treatment program, regular psychotherapy appointments can help provide ongoing support while they navigate the challenges of everyday life. Depending on the individual, this may include:
- Individual and group therapy, to help monitor symptoms, improve day-to-day functioning, and provide peer support.
- Family counseling, to help maintain healthy communication and strengthen family relationships.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, to provide the strategies for testing the reality of thoughts and feelings, and to help modify beliefs and behaviors that lead to negative emotions.
Although there is no cure for schizophrenia, it is treatable. With the right combination of medication, psychotherapy and other support services, it is possible to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia and live a healthy, satisfying life.
Outpatient schizophrenia treatment at Pacific Health Systems in San Diego
If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of schizophrenia, treatment is available. At Pacific Health Systems, we take a holistic approach to treatment, working closely with primary care doctors and other members of your psychological care team. We’ll customize a treatment plan designed to optimize your mental health and help you live your best life. For more information on our services for outpatient schizophrenia treatment in San Diego, please contact us at 619-267-9257 today.