Why It's Used

Common Types

Benefits and Success Rates


Psychosocial therapy

To help people gain insight into their illness as well as function better in everyday life, including socially, at work, and with family and friends 

Cognitive behavioral therapy: Focuses on thinking and behavior

Psychosocial rehabilitation: Helps with everyday living skills, housing, social skills, education, work

Self-help groups: Provide support from other people who have the illness and their families 

Studies show that psychosocial therapy can lead to greater medication compliance. It can also help people deal with everyday challenges of the illness, such as functioning at work, managing self-care, and forming relationships. 


Conventional, or "typical," antipsychotics

To reduce and prevent psychotic symptoms 

  • Etrafon

  • Haldol

  • Prolixin

  • Thorazine 

Typical antipsychotics have been shown to greatly reduce psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. 

Side effects can include neurological and movement problems, such as tardive dyskinesia—a potentially chronic and untreatable movement disorder. This can lead to rigidity, persistent muscle spasms, tremors, and more.

Second-generation, or "atypical," antipsychotics 

To reduce and prevent psychotic symptoms 

  • Abilify

  • Clozaril

  • Geodon

  • Risperdal

  • Saphris

  • Seroquel

  • Zyprexa 

Some atypical antipsychotics are thought to be more effective than typical antipsychotics at controlling psychotic symptoms, especially "negative" symptoms such as emotional flatness. They're also much less likely to cause movement problems. 

Atypical antipsychotics may cause major weight gain and changes in blood sugar or blood lipids. This, in turn, can increase the likelihood of developing diabetes and cardiovascular illness.

Clozaril, considered the most effective antipsychotic medication, can cause a problem called agranulocytosis. This involves a severe reduction in white blood cells, which help fight infection. People taking the drug must have their white blood cell count checked regularly. Other types of atypical antipsychotics very rarely cause agranulocytosis. 

 Long-acting injectable antipsychotics, or depot injections 

To reduce and prevent psychotic symptoms without the need for daily medication 

Typical antipsychotics:

  • Haldol

  • Prolixin

Atypical antipsychotics:

  • Zyprexa

  • Invega

  • Risperdal 

Research shows that depot injections can greatly increase medication compliance. Injections are given once or twice a month. People have commonly reported preferring depot injections over pills after trying both. 

Risks are generally the same as the medication in pill form. These may include restlessness, weight gain, and more. 

Medical Reviewer: Correll, Christoph MD Last Annual Review Date: 2010-06-09T00:00:00-06:00 Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Reference: Mental Health and Behavior section on Better Medicine

What to Ask Your Doctor About Schizophrenia

Be prepared to ask the right questions at your next doctor’s appointment for schizophrenia.

Did You Know?

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People with schizophrenia are 3 times more likely than the general population to be addicted to nicotine.