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How To Manage Schizophrenia

Medically reviewed by Dr. Perpetua Neo, DClinPsy, UCL; MPhil
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How To Manage Schizophrenia October 18, 2018

According to WHO, schizophrenia affects around 21 million people worldwide (1). Schizophrenia is a mental health disorder. An individual may not even know that they are affected by this condition until they are diagnosed with it.

Battling schizophrenia can prove to be quite difficult. Diagnosed individuals might struggle to manage their emotions and think clearly. They may take a while to come to terms with the fact that they actually have a mental health disorder.

While schizophrenia cannot be cured or prevented, you can definitely work towards managing its symptoms. This post lists some amazing natural remedies that can help you manage the symptoms of schizophrenia. For more information on this condition, read on.

Table Of Contents

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is the medical term used to define a mental health disorder that is characterized by symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and other cognitive problems. First onset is usually in late adolescence or early adulthood. Most often than not, schizophrenia is a lifelong struggle.

Individuals affected by this condition exhibit the following symptoms.

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Signs And Symptoms

The symptoms associated with schizophrenia are categorized into four types. They are:

a. Positive Symptoms: These symptoms are also known as psychotic symptoms. They include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Catatonia – It causes an individual to remain in a fixed position for a long time.

b. Negative Symptoms: Negative symptoms are those elements that may be taken away from a schizophrenic individual such as:

  • Lack of emotions, expressions, and motivation
  • Reduced speech and energy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor hygiene and grooming
  • Loss of interest in life

c. Cognitive Symptoms: Cognitive symptoms, as the term indicates, affect an individual’s thought process. They could be positive or negative. They include:

  • Inability to understand and make decisions
  • Difficulty in focusing and paying attention
  • Difficulty in remembering things and/or communicating

d. Emotional Symptoms: Negative symptoms, such as blunted emotions, make up the emotional symptoms of schizophrenia.

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Types Of Schizophrenia

In the past, schizophrenia was divided into the following subtypes:

  • Paranoid schizophrenia
  • Disorganized (hebephrenic) schizophrenia
  • Catatonic schizophrenia
  • Childhood schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder

However, doctors do not use these subtypes any more. Instead, schizophrenia is now seen as a single spectrum disorder that includes the symptoms of all its previous subtypes.

Experts believe that several factors might trigger schizophrenia. They are listed below.

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Causes And Risk Factors

Factors that contribute to the development of schizophrenia are:

  • Genetics – A family history of the condition
  • Imbalance of chemicals (neurotransmitters) like dopamine and serotonin in the brain
  • Brain abnormalities

Other factors that increase one’s risk of developing schizophrenia are:

  • Exposure to viral infections or trauma before birth
  • Substance abuse (marijuana or LSD)
  • Too much stress
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Viral infections

The following diagnosis may be carried out to confirm or rule out schizophrenia.

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Diagnosis

The doctor begins by analyzing your complete medical history. In some cases, a physical examination may also be carried out.

There are no specific lab tests to diagnose schizophrenia. But your doctor may carry out blood tests and brain imaging studies to rule out other illnesses and substance abuse. You may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist to treat your condition.

Treatment for schizophrenia is usually all about managing the symptoms and preventing the condition from getting worse. Listed here are some home remedies that can reduce the severity of your symptoms, helping you manage schizophrenia better.

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Natural Ways To Manage Schizophrenia

  1. Green Cardamom
  2. Basil Leaves
  3. Vitamins
  4. Panax Ginseng
  5. Ginkgo Biloba
  6. Omega 3 (Fish Oil)
  7. Brahmi
  8. Ashwagandha
  9. Chamomile
  10. Indian Gooseberry (Amla)
  11. Licorice Powder
  12. Carrot
  13. Spinach
  14. Kava Kava

Home Remedies To Manage Schizophrenia

1. Green Cardamom

Green Cardamom Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 2-3 chopped green cardamoms
  • 1 cup of water
  • Sugar or honey
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two to three chopped cardamoms to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer and strain.
  4. After the tea cools down a bit, add some honey or sugar to it.
  5. Drink the warm cardamom tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink cardamom tea twice daily.

Why This Works

Cardamom is a popular herbal remedy used for treating anxiety. It can help in managing symptoms of schizophrenia – like hallucinations and delusions – that can cause anxiety (2).

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2. Holy Basil Leaves (Tulsi)

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You Will Need
  • 12-15 basil leaves
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add 12 to 15 holy basil leaves to a cup of water in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Simmer for 5 minutes and switch off the gas.
  3. Allow the tea to steep for another 5 minutes.
  4. Strain and drink the basil tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this tea 1 to 2 times daily.

Why This Works

Holy basil is an Ayurvedic remedy used to treat various health disorders. It possesses cognition-enhancing and stress-relieving properties that can help manage schizophrenia (3).

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3. Vitamins

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B vitamins like vitamin B9 and B12 as well as vitamin D may hold great significance in the treatment of schizophrenia (4). Most schizophrenia patients have shown a deficiency in these vitamins. Thus, increasing their intake can help manage the symptoms.

Foods rich in vitamin, B9, and B12 are egg yolk, cheese, avocado, broccoli, fish, poultry, and eggs. You can start by consuming more of these foods and then visiting your doctor if you want to take additional supplements for these nutrients.

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4. Ginseng

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You Will Need

100-200 mg ginseng supplement

What You Have To Do
  1. Take 100 to 200 mg of ginseng supplement once daily.
  2. Consult your doctor before taking any additional supplements.
How Often You Should Do This

You must use this only as a short-term remedy and not for more than a couple of months.

Why This Works

Panax quinquefolius (American ginseng) exhibits antipsychotic effects. It helps in managing the negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia (5).

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5. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba Pinit

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You Will Need

60-120 mg of ginkgo biloba supplement

What You Have To Do

Consume 60 to 120 mg of ginkgo biloba supplement daily. Seek a doctor’s advice before taking any supplement to know the dosage suitable for you.

How Often You Should Do This

Take this supplement either once or 3 times daily in divided doses.

Why This Works

Ginkgo biloba can help reduce negative schizophrenia symptoms with its antipsychotic activities. It can also assist antipsychotic drugs like clozapine in working better (6).

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6. Omega-3 (Fish Oil)

Omega-3 (Fish Oil) Pinit

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You Will Need

500-1000 mg of omega-3 supplements

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume 500-1000 mg of omega-3 supplements daily. Consult your doctor before doing so.
  2. Alternatively, you can consume more of omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish, flaxseed, walnuts, and chia seeds.
How Often You Should Do This

Consume omega-3 supplements once daily.

Why This Works

Omega-3 fatty acids can help mitigate the course and symptoms of schizophrenia (7). They can also help improve the behavioral aspects while reducing cognitive symptoms.

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7. Brahmi

Brahmi Pinit

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You Will Need

500 mg of brahmi supplement

What You Have To Do

Consume 500 mg of brahmi supplement once daily. Make sure you consult a doctor before taking any supplements for schizophrenia.

How Often You Should Do This

Do not take this supplement more than once daily.

Why This Works

Brahmi, also known as Bacopa monnieri, is a widely used herb in Ayurveda. It enhances cognitive abilities, improves the positive symptoms of schizophrenia and can also help manage symptoms of depression and anxiety (8).

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8. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha Pinit

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You Will Need

250-500 mg ashwagandha supplement

What You Have To Do

Take 250 to 500 mg of ashwagandha supplement daily. Consult your doctor to know the suitable dosage for you.

How Often You Should Do This

You can take ashwagandha supplement 1 to 3 times daily as per the guidance of your healthcare provider.

Why This Works

Ashwagandha has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties that can help in managing the negative as well as general symptoms associated with schizophrenia (9). It can also be used as an adjunct to other antipsychotic drugs.

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9. Chamomile

Chamomile Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chamomile
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of dried chamomile to a cup of water.
  2. Boil it for a while and then switch off the stove.
  3. Allow the tea to steep for at least 5 to 10 minutes before straining.
  4. Drink the hot chamomile tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this tea twice daily.

Why This Works

Chamomile tea is a great remedy for dealing with symptoms of stress and anxiety. It helps promote sleep and alleviates depression (10). It is, therefore, a useful way to manage schizophrenia.

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10. Indian Gooseberry (Amla)

Indian Gooseberry (Amla) Pinit

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You Will Need

2-3 Indian gooseberries

What You Have To Do

Consume 2 to 3 Indian gooseberries daily.

How Often You Should Do This

You can consume the gooseberries all at once, or one at a time at regular intervals.

Why This Works

Daily consumption of Indian gooseberry can enhance your cognitive abilities and improve the functioning of your brain, thereby making it an excellent remedy for alleviating the symptoms of schizophrenia (11).

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11. Licorice Powder

Licorice Powder Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 2 teaspoons of licorice powder
  • 2 cups of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two teaspoons of licorice powder to two cups of water and mix well.
  2. Bring this mixture to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer until the licorice mixture reduces to half its initial volume.
  4. Strain and allow the mixture to cool a bit.
  5. Drink the licorice solution.
How Often You Should Do This

Drink this mixture once every morning and have your breakfast only after 1 hour.

Why This Works

Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) powder helps to enhance one’s cognitive abilities like memory and learning. Thus, it can be used to mitigate the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia (12).

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12. Carrot

Carrot Pinit

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You Will Need

1-2 carrots

What You Have To Do

Eat 1 to 2 carrots daily. You can either add them to your favorite salads/dishes, eat them directly, or juice them.

How Often You Should Do This

Consume carrots daily.

Why This Works

Carrots are rich sources of niacin, also known as nicotinic acid (vitamin B3). Niacin helps attenuate symptoms of depression and anxiety while also improving cognitive abilities in schizophrenia patients (13), (14).

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13. Spinach

Spinach Pinit

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You Will Need

½ cup of cooked spinach

What You Have To Do

Consume at least half a cup of cooked spinach. You can either cook spinach alone or add it to other dishes.

How Often You Should Do This

Have spinach once daily to benefit from this remedy.

Why This Works

Spinach is a rich source of folate (vitamin B9). Schizophrenic individuals are often deficient in folate, and restoring this deficiency can help reduce the severity of the symptoms (15).

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14. Kava Kava

Kava Kava Pinit

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You Will Need
  • 1 tablespoon of powdered kava
  • 1 glass of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a tablespoon of powdered kava to a glass of water.
  2. Mix well for about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain any remaining kava root from the solution.
  4.  Drink the mixture.

Note: You must consult a doctor before taking kava as it may interact with other medications.

How Often You Should Do This

Drink this once daily or as suggested by your healthcare provider.

Why This Works

Kava is extracted from the roots of a plant belonging to the pepper family. It is a sought-after remedy in treating psychotic problems like anxiety, which makes it a wonderful option for managing symptoms of schizophrenia (16).

The above remedies will help you manage the symptoms of schizophrenia to a great extent. However, severe cases might need to be treated medically. A few of these treatment methods are listed below.

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Other Treatment Methods

  • Antipsychotic medications like Chlorpromazine (Thorazine), Fluphenazine (Prolixin), and Olanzapine (Zyprexa).
  • Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) – This involves medicines and therapies, along with social services, family support, and educational intervention to help individuals with schizophrenia.
  • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) – It involves delivering a small electric shock while the patient is asleep.
  • Psychosocial therapies like rehabilitation, cognitive remediation, individual psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy to help with behavioral, psychological, social, and occupational problems.

Patients with severe symptoms may also need to be hospitalized.

While there is no way to prevent the development of schizophrenia, the affected individuals can follow these tips to manage the condition.

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Tips To Manage Schizophrenia

  • Talk to a doctor who will tailor a treatment plan suited to your lifestyle, goal, and personality.
  • Put together a trustworthy treatment team that includes a healthcare provider, psychiatrist, therapist, and possibly, a social worker.
  • Know what to do when you experience a schizophrenic episode.
  • Develop a routine as it is more comforting for your mental health.
  • Get plenty of sleep and avoid stress.
  • Eat well.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Be aware of the triggers.

Managing the symptoms of schizophrenia right from the beginning is a great way to deal with the condition before it worsens. However, schizophrenia is not detected early enough in all cases. The tips and remedies mentioned in this post, along with the medications prescribed by your doctor, will help you deal with schizophrenia a lot better.

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Hope you found this post helpful. Share your views with us in the comment box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Does schizophrenia run in families?

Yes, mental health disorders like schizophrenia can run in families. Your risk of developing this condition increases if any of your family members has had a history of the disease.

What happens if schizophrenia goes untreated?

If schizophrenia goes untreated, it can lead to behavioral, physical, and emotional complications that can affect your normal life. Some of its complications include depression, anxiety, relationship problems, social isolation, phobias, substance abuse, and even suicide in some cases.

Are people with schizophrenia dangerous?

Most individuals affected by schizophrenia are not dangerous. However, some may display psychotic symptoms because they feel threatened by their surroundings. This may cause the individuals to be a danger to themselves and others around them.

How long it takes to control schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a lifelong condition, and an affected individual might have to be on antipsychotics throughout their life. However, the condition of some individuals can improve to such a point that they can function independently.

References

  1. Schizophrenia” Mental Health, WHO
  2. The effect of Elettaria cardamomum extract on anxiety-like behavior in a rat model of post-traumatic stress disorder” Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, US National Library of Medicine
  3. Holy basil (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) leaf extract enhances specific cognitive parameters in healthy adult volunteers: A placebo-controlled study” Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, US National Library of Medicine
  4. Vitamin Supplementation in the Treatment of Schizophrenia” CNS Drugs, US National Library of Medicine
  5. Evaluation of the antipsychotic potential of Panax quinquefolium in ketamine induced experimental psychosis model in mice” Neurochemical Research, US National Library of Medicine
  6. A placebo-controlled study of extract of ginkgo biloba added to clozapine in patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia” International Clinical Psychopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine
  7. Omega-3 fatty acids and schizophrenia: evidences and recommendations” Clinical Therapeutics, US National Library of Medicine
  8. Add-on effect of Brahmi in the management of schizophrenia” Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
  9. Adjunctive Use of a Standardized Extract of Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) to Treat Symptom Exacerbation in Schizophrenia: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, US National Library of Medicine
  10. Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial” Journal of Advanced Nursing, US National Library of Medicine
  11. Exploring the Effect of Phyllanthus emblica L. on Cognitive Performance, Brain Antioxidant Markers and Acetylcholinesterase Activity in Rats: Promising Natural Gift for the Mitigation of Alzheimer’s Disease” Annals Of Neurosciences, US National Library of Medicine
  12. Beneficial effect of aqueous root extract of Glycyrrhiza glabra on learning and memory using different behavioral models: An experimental study” Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, US National Library of Medicine
  13. NICOTINIC ACID IN THE TREATMENT OF CERTAIN DEPRESSED STATES: A PRELIMINARY REPORT” Annals of Internal Medicine
  14. Dietary niacin and the risk of incident Alzheimer’s disease and of cognitive decline” Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, US National Library of Medicine
  15. Folate and vitamin B12 status in schizophrenic patients” Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine
  16. Kava for the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder (K-GAD): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial” Trials, US National Library of Medicine
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