Holistic Treatments for Schizophrenia

Holistic Treatments for Schizophrenia

For those with a serious mental health condition, it’s common to feel like relief is difficult to find. Alternative treatments that stem from natural sources and aren’t bound to pharmaceutical limitations or harsh side effects have become popular. This is especially true when it comes to holistic treatments for schizophrenia.

Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all methods when it comes to how to treat schizophrenia. Instead, patients have to go through trial and error to find out the best combinations for them. Throughout this article, we’re going to take a deeper look at overcoming psychosis naturally. At the end, we invite you to ask further questions.

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a mental health condition that involves a breakdown between thought, emotions, and behavior. It’s typically diagnosed during late teenage years up through the early thirties and more often affects men compared to women. Diagnosis oftentimes begins after an episode of psychosis which shifts the patient’s ability to think, emote, and behave. ¹

Most of schizophrenia thoughts, emotional states, and behaviors mirror one another and the process of the patient’s unwinding mental state can be interceded through proper diagnosis and treatment from a mental health professional. Most providers and doctors recognize these factors as symptoms that aid in diagnosis. Such symptoms are commonly broken down into three categories: psychotic, negative, or cognitive symptom-set. ²

Psychotic Symptoms

A set of symptoms known to cause psychotic conduct not seen in healthy people. These symptoms represent what makes a person with schizophrenia lose touch with reality. They include:

  • Delusions
  • Hallucinations
  • Movement irregularities (agitation)
  • Thought irregularities (dysfunctional thinking)

Negative Symptoms

A set of symptoms which disassociate a person with schizophrenia from normal emotions and conduct. They include:

  • Difficulty starting and sustaining activities
  • Not finding excitement in day-to-day life
  • Reduced expression of emotions through the face or voice
  • Reduced speaking

Cognitive Symptoms

A set of symptoms which changes memory and other areas of thinking. Some people with schizophrenia feel these symptoms stronger than others. They include:

  • Difficulty focusing or paying attention
  • Difficulty with “working memory” (ability to use information right after learning of it)
  • Improper “executive functioning” (ability to comprehend information and use it for decision making)

What Causes Schizophrenia?

When we discuss the concept of the cause of schizophrenia, we are discussing many different possible options. There are certain factors and circumstances that play into whether someone will eventually develop schizophrenia. Oftentimes, the cause of schizophrenia is not through means that the patient can control. Such situations can include genetic factors, family history of mental illness, or complications during pregnancy of the patient.

That being said, there are causes that extend outside these circumstances. Situations such as prolonged and exacerbated drug use or childhood trauma. As for drug use, it’s often occurs from the effects of the drug that can trigger schizophrenia symptoms. Childhood trauma can also play a part in the developing of schizophrenia symptoms. ³

What is the Treatment for Schizophrenia?

The most common way schizophrenia is treated is through a mix of medication, psychological evaluations and peer support groups. The medications that are most common to treat schizophrenia are antipsychotics. Antipsychotics come in two different categories: typical and atypical antipsychotics.

Typical Antipsychotics

Typical antipsychotics are considered older antipsychotics as they were created in the 1950s and differ in the way in which they interact with the brain compared to atypical antipsychotics. Haloperidol and chlorpromazine are the most common typical antipsychotics prescribed to patients, but they tend to have riskier side effects. Typical antipsychotics have side effects which can cause motor complications like stiffness and shakiness. There is also higher risk of developing sleeping issues and certain diseases like diabetes from typical antipsychotics.

Atypical Antipsychotics

Atypical antipsychotics works by inhibiting serotonin receptors and blocking them from overdevelopment. These kinds of antipsychotics are more prescribed nowadays due to their limited side effects. Atypical antipsychotics lack presenting the same physical symptoms that are often experienced with typical antipsychotics.

Which is Best: Typical or Atypical Antipsychotics?

A study done by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the British Journal of Psychiatry looked into the efficacy of these two forms of antipsychotics as well as comparing them against each other to see how patients and providers responded to the medication treatment. When compared, typical and atypical antipsychotics were both seen as being useful for treating schizophrenia. However, most patients and providers prefer atypical variants due to their limited psychical side effects.

How to Cure Schizophrenia Permanently

Unfortunately, as of this time, there is no cure for schizophrenia. Instead, mental health professionals will give patients a treatment path that suppresses symptoms and allows them to live a fulfilling life.

What is schizophrenia?

Holistic Treatments for Schizophrenia

Although medications can help with schizophrenia and assuredly, with a mental health professional following a patient, can deliver results towards treatment, the underlying concern is the harsh side effects that come along with taking antipsychotics. However, there is a way to get the treatment that can ease symptoms without adding unnecessary and even risky side effects: holistic approaches.

Holistic treatments for schizophrenia often involve natural supplements, therapy options, and creating new lifestyle changes that can help relieve symptoms over time. Holistic methods are treatments for schizophrenia without medication and help to naturally overcome psychosis. They may also be able to provide for deficiencies often found in schizophrenia patients.

Natural Supplements

There are naturally occurring ingredients as well as supplements that have shown promise in trying to relieves the symptoms of schizophrenia. Most of these natural supplements for schizophrenia are safe to take and can be bought over-the-counter at pharmacies and natural health stores.

B Vitamins

Those with schizophrenia often suffer from low blood levels of folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) which in turn can worsen symptoms. A study done by Cambridge University in the United Kingdom found that those who suffered from schizophrenia on average had reported lower levels of B vitamins and some had an all out deficiency. When said participants were treated with different variations of vitamin B supplements they found that their schizophrenia symptoms – including stress, anxiety, and neurological processing – had improved.

B vitamins are imperative to our health and although you can get them through natural sources, such as in the foods we eat like red meats, whole grains, and certain fruits and vegetables. It’s available as a dietary supplement that can be purchased over-the-counter at pharmacies as well as health food stores.

Vitamin D

Most commonly found from exposure to sunlight, vitamin D helps in regulating key bodily and brain functions. Vitamin D is also responsible for the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are necessary to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

It’s been shown that there may be a link between the development of schizophrenia and a vitamin D deficiency. The vitamin has been shown to greatly assist the brain and its internal structuring. For example, vitamin D can activate receptors on neurons in regions implicated in the regulation of behavior. It can also protect the brain by buffering antioxidant and anti-inflammatory defenses against injury. ⁷

A deficiency of vitamin D can be a contributing factor in early development of schizophrenic symptoms as well as making existing patient’s symptoms worse.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Due to its anti inflammatory nature, omega 3s are incredible for those with mental health complications as inflammation can occur in the brain which can exacerbate symptoms. Omega 3s are naturally-occurring in fish, but are also available as a dietary supplement.

Consuming omega 3s reduces the number of psychosis-related events and symptoms – primarily in younger patients with schizophrenia, such as adolescents and young adults in the early to mid 20s. Omega 3s are showing promising results in helping alleviate symptoms in those with poor lipid intake as the addition to helping alleviate inflammation.

Holistic Therapies for Schizophrenia Treatment

Holistic therapy options are a part of natural treatments for schizophrenia and can range from different talk therapy approaches, physical therapy, and voluntary and compulsory detention. ⁹

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that changes schizophrenic behavior through discussions and actions related to the condition. CBT has shown great promise in providing sustainable relief and changes of the symptoms for a variety of mental disorders. In fact, CBT has become standardized form of treatment for schizophrenia in the United Kingdom and has become widely prescribed and utilized in the United States. ¹⁰

CBT is good in cases in which the schizophrenic patient is going through episodes of elevated psychotic symptoms and in cases where behavioral patterns are at the root of a decline of overall function. The benefits of CBT is holistic in that it doesn’t just address poor behavior practices and tries to correct them, but it can also encourage positive models of behaviors. ¹¹

CBT also intends to reconstruct events and memories by trying to change the patient’s perspective on trauma of said event. The lasting benefit is the creation of a confidant – someone the patient can trust that exists outside the family and medical environments – who can help with the challenges that this mental health disorder can bring and get suggestions to create positive and incremental benefit. ¹²

Crisis Intervention

Care taking programs can offer a safe and complimentary environment wherein the complete care of the patient is top priority. Most caretaking facilities are for immediate, emergency, and preventative care during duress or chaotic schizophrenic episodes. Schizophrenic episodes can swing and vary in their effect and impact on the patient and others around them.

Due to worsening psychotic symptoms, suicidal ideation and actions can occur. 10% of schizophrenic patients are suicidal and a lot of actions and attempts occur during the first episode of schizophrenia. Although most of those close to a patient will refer their family member to a hospital or mental health clinic setting to deal with suicidal actions.

During these distressing times, crisis programs can intervene on a dangerous episode. The care program can offer offer counseling, medication, and remove the patient from their environment where symptoms are worsening. The care program can also come up with strategies for the patient as well as their loved ones and their care team on how to best take care of the patient going forward after an episode.

Talk therapy for schizophrenia.

Lifestyle Changes for Schizophrenia

Lifestyle changes coupled with other holistic treatments for schizophrenia can amount to lasting modifications. Incremental changes that stem from accepting the diagnosis can lead to creating larger, more impactful decisions. Decisions like creating a support system and including food choices can drastically improve treatment results.

Diet Plans for Schizophrenia

There is an impact of the foods that the patient is eating. Researchers are continuously looking into the claim that schizophrenia can be cured by diet. The diet of schizophrenic patients has an impact on symptoms. There has been connections made to how pro-inflammatory foods affect patients and worsen symptoms. Those with schizophrenia can have a more sensitive nervous system and consuming foods that can increase inflammation can amplify symptoms.

While some antipsychotics have seen some promise in creating anti-inflammatory responses, the best way in which to ensure this is by altering the diet to include more anti-inflammatory responsive foods. ¹³

Such foods that are good for those with schizophrenia and are anti inflammatory in nature are: ¹⁴

  • Seafood such as fish, oysters, and crabs contain omega 3’s which are important for the regulation of schizophrenic symptoms.
  • Clams contain a necessary nutrient of B12, which can help facilitate better schizophrenic symptom response.
  • Consuming the proper amount of fruit and vegetables can help with getting the proper amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals.
  • Starchy foods – like breads and pastas – should be whole grain based. Whole grains provide fiber and vitamin B which, as stated before, can be helpful in managing schizophrenia symptoms.

Food Suggestions & Planning

Foods that schizophrenic patients should avoid are anything with high amounts of refined sugars. Refined sugar are in foods like candy, ice cream, and sodas. There are a lot of schizophrenic patients who also have diabetes.

There could be a link to gluten exacerbating schizophrenic responses. That being said there has been a growing trend of schizophrenic patients opting for a gluten free diet. A gluten free diet can ensure that any negative effects that gluten can have on schizophrenia.

It’s also vitally important that meals are measured. This is for two reasons:

  1. Ensuring that the patient is eating proper portion sizes
  2. Making sure the patient is eating the correct kinds of foods

It’s also important that those with schizophrenia eat three square meals are regular intervals each and every day. Of course, it’s not always possible to eat the proper amount at the right times. However, consistent diet routines can ensure that the patient is getting the necessary calories and nutrients needed to manage symptoms.

Coping Mechanisms

For those with schizophrenia, it’s not always enough to have the right therapy options, diet, and supplements to deal with the range of symptoms. Sometimes the patient needs to have the proper set of coping mechanisms in order to live day in and day out with such a complex mental health condition. ¹⁵

Avoiding Alcohol and Drugs

Drugs and alcohol can greatly deteriorate the state of mental health patients. Although it may be tempting to have a drink or a smoke, it can lead patients down a destructive path. For those with schizophrenia, the root cause of their condition may have been from imbibing in illicit drugs. The drugs that are most impactful for schizophrenia are methamphetamine, cocaine, and cannabis. Patients who consume drugs in large quantities over a long period of time can develop schizophrenic symptoms. ¹⁶

Its best that those with a history of substance abuse who also have a diagnosis of schizophrenia quit their interaction. Drugs and alcohol can greatly affect schizophrenia symptoms and could lead to even worse consequences.

Effectively Managing Stress

It’s common for those who are experiencing schizophrenia also experience high levels of stress, anxiety, and depressive-related symptoms. That being said, it’s imperative that the patient is managing stress in healthy ways. It’s recommended that those with schizophrenia engage in the following methods in order to better deal with stress, anxiety and depression related symptoms:

Engaging in an Exercise Regimen

Exercising can be a great way to manage stress. Most providers who are taking care of patients with schizophrenia often recommend the patient create a workout regimen that can not only reduce stress but also create endorphins and dopamine and allow for the patient to take part of their own care.

Spending Time with Friends and Family

Engaging in activities that one enjoys with said supportive members of a social circle. Having a support system with friends and family to go to during times of distress but also in times of uplift and being able to have fun and relax.

Reality Testing

Reality testing is a way for those with schizophrenia to check in with others to better ground oneself during times of psychotic episodes. The practice can help bring those with schizophrenia back to reality and assist with ensuring the patient that what they are experiencing is or is not in line with what is actually going on in the world around them. Reality testing can occur with a mental health professional but it can also be with those in the patient’s support group of friends and family.

Participating in Hobbies

A great way to distract those with schizophrenia is for them to find a hobby or an activity that not only they find fun but also engaging and relaxing. When those with schizophrenia are in high stress periods, it’s best to have an outlet that they can turn to in order to shut down psychosis-related symptoms. Patients who can reconnect with reality and themselves with a process that they enjoy can ensure that they function better in the future.

Hobbies for schizophrenia.

Final Word

For those with schizophrenia, the treatment process can be as intimidating as the symptoms themselves. A pharmaceutical route of treatment can include powerful antipsychotics with side effects that can be concerning and, in some cases, debilitating for the patient. It’s understandable that those who don’t want to deal with the many different antipsychotics medications would opt for more holistic treatments for schizophrenia.

We have learned that such treatments can deliver therapeutic effects which can relieve some of the more distressing symptoms of schizophrenia. From incorporating changes like including anti inflammatory diets to utilizing therapy options such as CBT can offer great opportunities for the patient to not only relieve symptoms but also can give them the power to take charge of their own care.

It’s vital that not only the support team and care providers have a grasp of treating the mental health condition but the patient as well. Holistic treatments for schizophrenia can come from the most simple sources which can create lasting change and beneficial response. 

Your Questions

Still have questions regarding holistic treatments for schizophrenia?

We invite you to ask them in the comments section below. If you have any further knowledge to share – whether personal or professional – we’d also love to hear from you.

Reference Sources

¹ National Institute of Mental Health: Schizophrenia – Overview

² Mayo Clinic: Schizophrenia – Symptoms

³ Australia Department of Health: Causation of Schizophrenia

⁴ Rethink Mental Illness Foundation: Antipsychotics for Schizophrenia

⁵ National Center for Biotechnical Information: Efficacy of atypical v. typical antipsychotics in the treatment of schizophrenic psychosis

⁶ Cambridge University: Effects of vitamin and mineral supplementation on symptoms of schizophrenia

⁷ National Library of Medicine: Developmental vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia

⁸ National Center for Biotechnical Information: Beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in schizophrenia

⁹ National Health Service UK: Treating Schizophrenia – Therapy Approaches

¹⁰ National Center for Biotechnical Information: Cognitive Behavior Therapy for People with Schizophrenia

¹¹ American Psychological Association: CBT for Schizophrenia Sees Strong Support

¹² American Psychological Association: CBT – Understanding & Analysis

¹³ National Center for Biotechnical Information: Anti-Inflammatory Diets and Schizophrenia

¹⁴ Living with Schizophrenia Organization UK: Better Understanding Schizophrenia and Diet

¹⁵ National Center for Biotechnical Information: Coping strategies and quality of life in schizophrenia

¹⁶ National Center for Biotechnical Information: Substance abuse in patients with schizophrenia

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