Medications are critical for treating the symptoms of schizophrenia and psychosis.

Medication can help manage symptoms

There are a variety of options available and it may take time to find the medication that works best for each individual impacted by schizophrenia. What may work for one person may not work for another. What may be working today could lose its effectiveness in the future.

For this reason, it is essential to work with a psychiatrist or physician to ensure that a medication, its effectiveness, and any side effects are being assessed regularly.

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Treatment-Resistant Psychosis

Patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorders who have not responded well to trials of at least two antipsychotic medications are considered to have ‘treatment-resistant’ psychosis.

  • Available Medication Options

    • Standard antipsychotics are first generation antipsychotics that were developed in the 1950s. They are effective and have been in use for years but can have neurological side effects such as slowed movement or restless limbs.

    • Atypical antipsychotics are second generation medications that were developed more recently. They work differently than standard antipsychotic medications and tend to have fewer neurological side effects but may have more metabolic side effects.

    • Clozapine is an important medication because it can be an effective treatment for people who do not respond to other medications. However, there is a slight risk of increased infections for people taking clozapine so careful monitoring is needed.


Find your local assessment centre.

If you are not in immediate crisis but think you may be experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia or psychosis, find a mental health professional near you to get assessed. Call 8-1-1 to find a mental health assessment centre in your community or find a local EPI centre near you.

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What if my loved one refuses treatment?

The BC Mental Health Act outlines the use of involuntary treatment. This is a last resort to protect individuals in crisis, ensuring timely intervention for their well-being when they may be unable to make decisions in their best interest.

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  • Frequently Asked Questions

    • Yes, antipsychotic medications can control the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t real) and delusions (false beliefs).

    • The first antipsychotics that were developed are now known as “first generation” or “standard” antipsychotics. More recently developed antipsychotic medications are called “second generation” or “atypical”. The atypical medications may work better to improve certain symptoms and have fewer side effects.

    • People may need to try several medications or different doses to find what works best for them. Any changes to medications should be made in consultation with a doctor and it is important not to stop taking the medication suddenly.

      Antipsychotic medications are usually taken in pill form, but it is also possible to get long-acting antipsychotic shots, which can help prevent relapses.

    • Yes, antipsychotic medications can have side effects. There can be initial side effects, such as drowsiness or dizziness while you adjust to the medication. There can also be ongoing side effects, such as slowed movement and restless limbs. There can also be side effects that develop with long-term use, such as tardive dyskinesia.

      If side effects are persistent and problematic, the doctor may recommend changing the dose or trying a different medication.