What to know about injections for schizophrenia

Antipsychotic medications are a frequent treatment for schizophrenia. They function by targeting neurotransmitters and are available orally or via injection.

Antipsychotic drugs are the first-line treatment for schizophrenia, a chronic mental illness. First-generation and second-generation antipsychotic drugs are divided into two categories: first-generation and second-generation antipsychotics.

Continue reading to discover more about the different types of injectables for schizophrenia, how they work, and how to use them. This essay will also discuss the advantages, disadvantages, and alternative therapies of schizophrenia.

What are they?

schizophrenia
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Antipsychotic medications known as long-acting injectables (LAIs) are used to treat schizophrenia. They may help to alleviate psychosis, which can include pleasant symptoms that arise shortly after the commencement of the condition. Hallucinations, delusions, and confused thoughts are all positive symptoms.

Injections are normally given every 2–12 weeks. The medications are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

How do they function?

Antipsychotic injections for schizophrenia work by affecting neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate, which can help with psychosis symptoms. The drug slowly releases into the bloodstream for 2–12 weeks after the injection.

Because antipsychotics might take weeks or months to take action, a person may additionally take oral medication when they first start using LAIs. During this time, the patient must maintain touch with their physician.

Types

First-generation (typical) antipsychotics and second-generation (atypical) psychotics are the two types of schizophrenia LAIs.

First-generation antipsychotics

The first-generation antipsychotic medications were created to address positive symptoms of schizophrenia. The medications work by blocking dopamine D2 receptors.

They may, however, result in:

  • muscle stiffness
  • elevated prolactin, a hormone that may affect fertility and other body functions
  • evere, temporary movement disorders, or dystonia
  • long-term movement disorders, or tardive dyskinesia

First-generation LAI antipsychotics include:

  • chlorpromazine (Thorazine)
  • fluphenazine (Prolixin)
  • haloperidol (Haldol)

Second-generation antipsychotics

Second-generation antipsychotics were created to be more effective at blocking serotonin 5-HT2A receptors. They may be used to treat both positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, such as social withdrawal, difficulties speaking, and limited emotional expression.

Second-generation antipsychotics may lessen or eliminate side effects, such as movement abnormalities. However, they may increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in people. Individuals must eat a good diet and exercise regularly to prevent these negative effects.

Antipsychotics of the second generation include:

  • aripiprazole (Abilify)
  • paliperidone (Invega)
  • olanzapine (Zyprexa)
  • risperidone (Risperdal)
  • aripiprazole lauroxil (Aristada)

How to take
The medication is injected into the person’s muscle by a healthcare professional, usually in the shoulder, arm, or buttocks. They’ll also figure out how much to take and when to take it. They will usually begin with a low dose and gradually increase it over time. An injection is usually given every 2–12 weeks to a person.

People must follow their doctor’s instructions and maintain regular contact in order to track their progress. Even if they start to feel better, they must not miss doses or stop taking the medication.

Benefits

The use of LAIs to treat schizophrenia has a number of advantages. Injections are more convenient for many people than daily medications, especially if they have trouble remembering to take them. When compared to oral antipsychotics, LAIs have the potential to reduce hospitalization, improve treatment adherence, and lower the risk of relapse.

Injections help to keep the medication level stable, which can help to reduce side effects. Furthermore, the doctor can verify that the patient took the medication.

People can also meet their doctor in person, ask questions, and discuss any other important information at regular injection appointments.

Risks

Antipsychotic injections for schizophrenia may involve risks and adverse effects, which may improve with time.

The following are some of the risks and side effects:

  • pain at the injection site
  • dry mouth
  • restlessness
  • drowsiness
  • weight gain
  • neurological symptoms
  • movement disorders

Making a doctor’s appointment

If someone is interested in learning more about LAIs, they should speak with their doctor to see if they are a good candidate for the treatment. They can talk about the symptoms they want to address, as well as the probable side effects and advantages. They can also learn whether the procedure will necessitate blood tests and what kind of payment or insurance plan they will be able to use.

A person should see their doctor on a regular basis. They can discuss any changes or improvements in their symptoms or daily lives with them.

However, it is important to avoid abruptly quitting medications, as this can be harmful and may exacerbate symptoms. Before making any modifications to their dosage or routine, they should check with their doctor.

Alternative schizophrenia treatments and therapies

Many people seek relief from their symptoms through psychotherapy and self-management approaches in addition to antipsychotic injections.

Options for psychotherapy include:

  • Supportive therapy: This treatment focuses on the present moment and allows a person with schizophrenia to better cope with their situation and life.
  • Cognitive enhancement therapy: This treatment combines cognitive training on a computer with group therapy sessions. The goal is to improve brain function and boost a person’s confidence in their cognitive abilities.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: This type of therapy teaches people how to control their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in the face of symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as psychosis.

Conclusion 

Schizophrenia is a chronic and incurable mental condition. LAIs, on the other hand, can be used to treat and manage symptoms.

Individuals who have difficulty sticking to a treatment plan or who do not want to take a daily medicine may benefit from LAIs.

A person must visit their doctor on a regular basis and adhere to their treatment plan, which includes continuing to take antipsychotic medications even if they are improving.

LAIs and other forms of schizophrenia treatment should be discussed with a doctor.

Sources:

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8490677/
  • https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Long-Acting-Injectables
  • https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/schizophrenia-injection
  • https://www.thenationalcouncil.org/topics/long-acting-medications/
  • https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/prolactin-levels/
  • https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia/Treatment
  • https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6222385/