Treatments for Schizophrenia (Drugs and ACT)

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  • Created by: VHNLN
  • Created on: 05-04-16 23:01

Treatments for Schizophrenia

Biological Approach

Drug Treatment

Through the biological approach: if neurotransmitter functioning causes symptoms, drug treatments that affect such functioning can helo to treat those symptoms e.g. Chlorpromazine acts by blocking dopamine receptors.

Anti-Psychotic Drugs

APDs suppress hallucinations and delusions.

  • Typical APDs are well established and widely used
  • Atypical APDs are newer, less widely used and have fewer side effects, though they may act in different ways to tyical APDs

APDs often come with side effects

  • Sleepiness
  • Shaking/Muscle Spasm
  • Low blood pressure
  • Reduced/unusual sex drive
  • Weight gain

Only one anti psychotic drug is prescribed at any one time to a particular patient. They may be co-prescribed anti-depressants or anti-convulsants in addition to their APDs.                         [NOTE] : some clinicians prefer certain drugs, and some peope respond differently to different drugs, so there is no one drug for a particular mental disorder.

Meltzer et al. (2004)

481 SZ patients, split into 4 groups. Group 1were given a placebo, Grop 2 were prescribes haloperidol, a typical APD, and the other groups were prescribes new atypical APDs.

They took these over the course of 6 weeks and the effects were recorded:

  • positive and negative symptoms
  • severity of illness
  • participants were also scored on a psychiatric rating scale

Patients taking haloperidol saw significant inprovements in all aspects compared to the placebo group, which adds validity. One group on the new APDs inproved in several measures, including a reduction in postitive and negative symptoms, while the other saw no improvements. 

The study showed that haloperidol improves symptoms for the patient, and some new APDs (not all) show improvements over a placebo.



  • Drugs are thought to be better than the former (pre-1950s) treatments, as they are seen as more ethical and more effective.
  • Drug treatments rest strongly on biological evidence about the causes of Schizophrenia, so it is underpinned by theory which helps when considering its effectiveness.


  • Schizophrenic patients often do not continue to take drugs that are prescribed for them. It is estimated that this is the case in around 50% of patients. It may be problems with functioning that lead to them being unable to remember to take their medication regularly,


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