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Continuous vs. Intermittent Medication

Hektiklyfe ( asked an interesting question:

"So this is something you have to do the rest of your life or does (schizophrenia) go away after years of treatment?...and if you have to take those drugs for the rest of your life wouldn't you have to increase the dosage as time goes on?"

This was my response:
This a gray area because some people may not need treatment after many years (Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual). But for the majority of us we will need treatment for the rest of our lives. There is no cure for schizophrenia, it can be compared to diabetes in that we need medication to help us get by for our entire lives. And as time goes by usually the dose will decrease (Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual).

E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., author of Surviving Schizophrenia A Family Manual, said 'that people can stop medication until symptoms return. However, it is not clear which patients can do this without serious relapses. He goes on to say a quarter of people with schizophrenia that experience an episode and recovered will not get sick again and will not need medication' (Torrey 192).

'As for the three-quarters of people with schizophrenia who relapse they may need medication for several months following recovery. Medication is needed for several years for people who relapse a third time' (Torrey 192). "In summary, then: first episode, continue medications for several weeks; second episode, for several months; and third episode, for several years" (Torrey 193).

It seems that Torrey follows trial and error criteria for medication, which I do not agree with. I think all people with schizophrenia should take medication to prevent a relapse from occurring to begin with, not try to go without medication for a short while and see what happens. Again there is no cure for schizophrenia, but there is treatment to manage symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, and other negative symptoms.

What do you think of Torrey's theory? Do you agree that people with schizophrenia should try to go without medication after recovery to see if they are in that small percentage that does not need medication? What are your feelings about this issue over continuous medication versus intermittent medication?


HektikLyfe said…
Normally I am against medication for human frailties but I don't fully understand what causes this ailment.

If what he did has been tested in a lab under a controlled environment and it works, then that is unfortunately what we would have to do.

I have family that has lived with and eventually died from diabetes so I know how terrible dealing with a lifetime dosage must be.

I think it would be important to have close friends or family to help you during these off-medication experiments. You run the risk of hurting your relationship with them so pick someone strong. Then have them be responsible for you if you relapse. If you start showing symptoms but aren't completely there enough to be aware of them they can step in.

P.S. Thanks for this response it was VERY informative and more than satisfied my question. :)
A shrink gave me a similar "schedule" for my meds after an extremely severe episode of depression 9 years ago. One episode = medicate for a year; two episode = medicate for two years; two or more episodes medicate for a year per episode - all of this after recovery, of course. I think it's bunk. Illnesses are not linear like bone fractures with their healing!
This is a very important topic. After ignoring my Bipolar II diagnoses until I was in my late thirties, I truly believe that any illness that runs unchecked will gain more power.

One's brain does not want to get well: It's far easier to keep the status quo. Medication, like a 12-Step program, is unlikely to work, unless the patient is willing to surrender.

If one cannot swallow pride and head for the closest sign of help, it may result in death.

I found it interesting when I was sent an on-line questionaire by the BBC. What was astounding me, was that they talked about a medicine that was related to CURING Bipolar II, as well as other mental diagnoses.

It's late and I'm rambling. so I'll close. All best wishes, Dano.
Caitlin. said…
I am Bipolar II, with schizotypical episodes, psychotic breaks, and PTSD as well as good old fashioned depression. I'm on a myriad of medications, and am finally finding balance. However, I recently came across the case of John Forbes Nash, who overcame his schizophrenia without medication by simply choosing to ignore his hallucinations on an intellectual level. This has led me to speculate as to whether or not this method could work for other mental illnesses, especially my own.
You seem more informed than the average person in our kind of situation. Any thoughts?

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