How We Treat Schizophrenia
As one of the nation's top treatment centers for schizophrenia, Skyland Trail provides expert, evidence-based psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder in our mental health residential treatment and day treatment programs
Skyland Trail has expertise in treating individuals with complex diagnoses including first-episode psychosis (FEP), chronic or persistent psychosis, and when schizophrenia may be simultaneously present with other mood disorders like anxiety or depression.
Note that we currently do not offer schizophrenia treatment for adolescents or individuals younger than 18.
What is Schizophrenia?
Approximately 2.5 million Americans are diagnosed with schizophrenia. An individual with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary. This often manifests in socially unresponsive and withdrawn behavior, including trouble with emotional expression in social settings.
While the illness may develop over months or years, symptoms usually emerge between the ages of 15 and 25 and often earlier in males than females. Symptoms may come and go in cycles.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
The "positive symptoms" of schizophrenia are things that are "extra," or present to those with schizophrenia but not present to everyone else. For example, someone with schizophrenia may see or smell things that other people do not see or smell, or hear voices or sounds that other people do not hear.
Positive symptoms also include fixed false beliefs (sometimes called delusions). Someone may believe that they are being followed by the FBI or have been chosen for a special role in their faith community or government. Because they are struggling with these positive symptoms of schizophrenia, individuals with schizophrenia who do not receive effective treatment often are unable to develop the skills needed to live independently or thrive in society.
Some of the most serious symptoms of schizophrenia may be hard to see. Known as "negative symptoms," these include "losses" such as the loss of:
- Emotional expression
- Logical communications
- Ability to experience pleasure and even cognitive abilities.
Because the first episode of schizophrenia typically appears at a time when young people are learning how to be adults, the long-term effects of these negative symptoms can have the greatest impact.
Causes of Schizophrenia
Like most mental illnesses, scientists believe schizophrenia is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This is called the "stress-diathesis model." For individuals with a genetic predisposition for schizophrenia, experiencing stress, particularly trauma, can trigger the development of symptoms.
Some potential risk factors for schizophrenia include:
- a family history of schizophrenia
- an autoimmune disease or "over active" immune system
- father of advanced age
- prenatal exposure to toxins or viruses that may impact brain development
- early use of marijuana and other psychoactive or psychotropic drugs
Effective Treatments for Schizophrenia
While no cure for schizophrenia has been discovered, with proper treatment, many people lead productive and fulfilling lives. Early treatment can mean higher remission rates and better long-term outcomes.
At Skyland Trail, our first priority is to identify an appropriate medication strategy to reduce the symptoms of psychosis to control the hallucinations and delusions. We then work to help clients manage their illness and develop skills they need to feel safe and healthy in the world.
As part of our residential treatment program for schizophrenia, clients receive guidance and encouragement to manage their own hygiene and nutrition. A significant focus of individual and group therapy sessions is social integration, relationship building, and emotional coping skills.
All clients with schizophrenia or experiencing psychosis participate in computer-based cognitive training to prevent cognitive decline and improve cognitive functioning.