Paranoid schizophrenia is a disorder characterized by psychosis, or a distorted perception of reality that usually involves auditory hallucinations and beliefs that are not based in reality, or delusions. Treatments for paranoid schizophrenia typically come in the form of antipsychotic medications combined with psychotherapy, hospitalization when necessary, electroconvulsive therapy, and skill training. Such a complex and diverse approach to treatments for paranoid schizophrenia is important because psychoses such as schizophrenia tend to affect almost every aspect of a person's life, so the disorder must be attacked from many fronts to keep it manageable.
Antipsychotic drugs are the most common of all of the available treatments for paranoid schizophrenia. The exact mechanisms through which antipsychotic drugs work is not particularly well understood, but they are thought to affect neurotransmitters, or chemicals used for signaling purposes in the brain. While they tend to be effective in the control of psychosis, they often have unpleasant neurological side effects and can cause uncontrolled jerking movements. Sometimes, more specialized antipsychotic medications are used as treatments for paranoid schizophrenia when the generic antipsychotic drugs do not quite work. These more specialized medications are primarily used to control persistent hallucinations or depressive qualities, such as a lack of motivation.
It should be noted that antipsychotic medications and other treatments for paranoid schizophrenia are, in general, symptomatic—they are aimed at controlling the symptoms of schizophrenia, not at curing the actual disorder. This lack of a true cure means that individuals seeking treatments for paranoid schizophrenia often need lifelong treatment. This can be problematic because many people believe that they are cured when the treatment is going particularly well. Once they cease treatment, however, the symptoms return because the treatment only controls the symptom; it does not cure the disorder. Over time, an individual may change treatments as better treatment methods become available or as side effects become intolerable.
While antipsychotic drugs are the most common and, in general, most effective treatments for paranoid schizophrenia, there are other options that are commonly used in conjunction with such medications in order to better control the disorder. Psychotherapy is commonly used to supplement medication, particularly when individuals have trouble functioning in everyday life. In some cases, particularly during periods of crisis, hospitalization may be necessary to ensure the safety of the patient. Antipsychotic drugs combined with these other treatments for paranoid schizophrenia can give an individual suffering from paranoid schizophrenia some semblance of a normal life.