Though there is no cure for schizophrenia, many patients do well with minimal symptoms or periods of recovery. Drug treatment can reduce symptoms and greatly reduce future relapses. Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or supportive psychotherapy may reduce symptoms and enhance function, and other treatments are aimed at reducing stress, supporting employment or improving social skills. Treatment can help many people with schizophrenia lead highly productive and rewarding lives. As with other chronic illnesses, some patients do extremely well while others continue to be symptomatic or have impaired ability to function.
A variety of antipsychotic medications are effective in reducing the psychotic symptoms present in the acute phase of the illness, and they also help reduce the potential for future acute episodes. Before treatment can begin, however, a psychiatrist should conduct a thorough medical examination to rule out substance abuse or other medical illnesses whose symptoms mimic schizophrenia.
Diagnosis and treatment can be complicated by substance misuse. People with schizophrenia misuse drugs more often than the general population. Substance misuse also reduces the effectiveness of treatment for schizophrenia. If a person shows signs of addiction, treatment for the addiction should occur along with treatment for schizophrenia.