Schizophrenia & Thought Disorders

Helping you stay in control of your thoughts, so you can live to the fullest

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder that is caused by alterations in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative brain function. The results affect many parts of your life.

Schizophrenia is a type of thought disorder that can cause serious impairments to your social and occupational life.

Thought disorders impact about 2.2 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia typically appears during late adolescence or early adulthood. It is rare for children to be diagnosed.

Symptoms

If you have schizophrenia, you may have symptoms that include:

  • Delusions
  • Difficulty taking care of yourself
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing disturbing voices
  • Illogical thoughts
  • Maladaptive behaviors
  • Unreasonable worry that others are trying to harm you

Some people with schizophrenia and thought disorders also deal with mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and anxiety. If you experience a combination of symptoms associated with a thought disorder and a mood disorder, you may have schizoaffective disorder.

Understanding Schizophrenia & Thought Disorders

Schizophrenia is a type of thought disorder that can cause serious impairments to your social and occupational life.

Thought disorders impact about 2.2 million people in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia typically appears during late adolescence or early adulthood. It is rare for children to be diagnosed.

Symptoms

If you have schizophrenia, you may have symptoms that include:

  • Delusions
  • Difficulty taking care of yourself
  • Disorganized thinking
  • Hallucinations
  • Hearing disturbing voices
  • Illogical thoughts
  • Maladaptive behaviors
  • Unreasonable worry that others are trying to harm you

Some people with schizophrenia and thought disorders also deal with mood and anxiety disorders, including depression and anxiety. If you experience a combination of symptoms associated with a thought disorder and a mood disorder, you may have schizoaffective disorder.

IU Health Behavioral Health physicians, psychiatrists, advance practice nurses and therapists use a multidisciplinary approach that combines medicine with different psychological, social and behavioral therapies to help you reach your full potential.

Medicine Therapy

Depending on your individual needs, you may be prescribed one or more medications.

Anti-anxiety Medicines

Anti-anxiety drugs can be helpful in treating panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, but they are not intended for long-term use. Beta-blockers are more commonly used to treat heart conditions, but they can prevent the physical symptoms that go along with an anxiety disorder, especially a social phobia.

Antidepressants

These medicines help you think more clearly and can assist in achieving significant recovery from depression. Antidepressants are most often used in severe depression. These prescription-only drugs should only be taken under your doctor’s supervision. Your provider will discuss which kinds of medicines may work best for you.

Antipsychotic Medicines

These medicines can minimize your delusions and hallucinations. There are two classes of antipsychotics:

Typical or conventional antipsychotics are older medicines like Thorazine and Haldol.

Atypical or second-generation antipsychotics developed in the 1990s are highly effective at treating symptoms such as hallucinations and breaks with reality. They include Abilify, Risperdal and Clozaril.

Medication Management

A psychiatrist or an advance practice nurse can work with you to monitor your medicines and make sure there are no harmful drug interactions and that you do not experience negative reactions or side effects. You may need to make changes in your prescriptions to find the right medicines and dosages for you and your symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In this form of treatment, you actively work with your therapist to examine the relationships among your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and what leads to self-destructive actions. You learn how you can modify your thinking patterns to improve coping.

Psychological Therapy

Different types of psychological therapies help you and your family cope with and manage the symptoms of your schizophrenia and thought process disorder.

Psychological Testing

A variety of tests may be used to confirm a diagnosis, rule out certain conditions or uncover other issues. Symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to other mental illnesses. At the same time, a psychosis can occur outside of schizophrenia.

Tools such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory help you and your therapist determine what is really going on. Psychological testing provides information used to determine the best treatment for your situation.

Individual Therapy

In sessions with your mental health provider, you work to understand why you act and think in ways that are troubling to you or others.

Sessions focus on your current and past thoughts and experiences. This helps you regain control of your behaviors and learn skills to make changes in your actions. For children with schizophrenia, therapy is focused on support.

Brain Stimulation Therapy

If your condition does not improve, brain stimulation therapy may be an option.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

If you find that other treatments for your thought disorder are not successful, ECT may offer some relief. In this procedure, electric currents are passed through your brain in a controlled setting while you are under general anesthesia.

This triggers a seizure, which causes changes in your brain chemistry and can reverse your depression symptoms. You may be able to decrease medicines for depression after treatment.

Learn more about Electroconvulsive Therapy at IU Health.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

If you are battling severe schizophrenia, or another type of thought disorder you may be a candidate for rTMS.

This new therapy sends weak magnetic impulses to the frontal lobe of the brain and creates electrical currents that stimulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which are implicated in depression. This resets your brain’s chemistry. It is akin to rebooting your computer. Treatment is needed daily during a four-to-six week period.

Nutrition

Scientific studies show that diets low in sugar and fat are helpful for schizophrenia patients. Eating excess amounts of sugar and saturated fat causes the body to produce less of a protein important in forming new neural growths and synapses in the brain.

A registered dietitian can recommend proper nutrition intake and menus to maximize your health.

Self Help Groups & Support Groups

It is important to feel supported by others as you work to manage your schizophrenia symptoms. Support groups teach you coping skills and let you know you are not alone. Support groups for family members give your family the skills they need to help you recover.

Social Assistance

Clinical social workers are vital to helping you manage important aspects of you or your child’s care. Social workers assist you in making the right accommodations for supportive services, housing and making accommodations at school. You may need help with your finances, or you may need to arrange for a power of attorney or guardianship. A clinical social worker helps you access needed services, as well as applications for disability and medical waivers.

Social Training

You may benefit from social skills training and speech and language therapy. These treatments help you better interact with others. Children may need specialized and highly structured education programs at school.

Specialized Treatment Programs

IU Health psychiatrists, advanced practice nurses and psychotherapists provide comprehensive services for patients with thought disorders. Your care may include emergency care, inpatient psychiatric care, outpatient treatment and both individual and group therapy to maximize your level of functioning.

Outpatient Programs

Mental Health intensive outpatient programs take place onsite, where you’ll spend the day with specialists. You’ll learn skills that help you cope with your condition, and gain insights into how to manage your medicines.

At the end of the day, you will go home. As you get better, you can access long-term community support groups and ongoing supportive care in combination with outpatient sessions at an IU Health office.

Psychotic Disorders Program

The psychotic disorders program at IU School of Medicine treats individuals with schizophrenia in every phase of the illness. The treatment focus is on clinical care, research and personalized therapy designed to build relationships that support your recovery and prevent a relapse.

The Prevention and Recovery Center for Early Psychosis (PARC) is a part of this program and is the only early psychosis clinic in Indiana. PARC specializes in treating individuals in the early stages of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

Treatment

IU Health Behavioral Health physicians, psychiatrists, advance practice nurses and therapists use a multidisciplinary approach that combines medicine with different psychological, social and behavioral therapies to help you reach your full potential.

Medicine Therapy

Depending on your individual needs, you may be prescribed one or more medications.

Anti-anxiety Medicines

Anti-anxiety drugs can be helpful in treating panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, but they are not intended for long-term use. Beta-blockers are more commonly used to treat heart conditions, but they can prevent the physical symptoms that go along with an anxiety disorder, especially a social phobia.

Antidepressants

These medicines help you think more clearly and can assist in achieving significant recovery from depression. Antidepressants are most often used in severe depression. These prescription-only drugs should only be taken under your doctor’s supervision. Your provider will discuss which kinds of medicines may work best for you.

Antipsychotic Medicines

These medicines can minimize your delusions and hallucinations. There are two classes of antipsychotics:

Typical or conventional antipsychotics are older medicines like Thorazine and Haldol.

Atypical or second-generation antipsychotics developed in the 1990s are highly effective at treating symptoms such as hallucinations and breaks with reality. They include Abilify, Risperdal and Clozaril.

Medication Management

A psychiatrist or an advance practice nurse can work with you to monitor your medicines and make sure there are no harmful drug interactions and that you do not experience negative reactions or side effects. You may need to make changes in your prescriptions to find the right medicines and dosages for you and your symptoms.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

In this form of treatment, you actively work with your therapist to examine the relationships among your thoughts, feelings and behaviors and what leads to self-destructive actions. You learn how you can modify your thinking patterns to improve coping.

Psychological Therapy

Different types of psychological therapies help you and your family cope with and manage the symptoms of your schizophrenia and thought process disorder.

Psychological Testing

A variety of tests may be used to confirm a diagnosis, rule out certain conditions or uncover other issues. Symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to other mental illnesses. At the same time, a psychosis can occur outside of schizophrenia.

Tools such as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory and the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory help you and your therapist determine what is really going on. Psychological testing provides information used to determine the best treatment for your situation.

Individual Therapy

In sessions with your mental health provider, you work to understand why you act and think in ways that are troubling to you or others.

Sessions focus on your current and past thoughts and experiences. This helps you regain control of your behaviors and learn skills to make changes in your actions. For children with schizophrenia, therapy is focused on support.

Brain Stimulation Therapy

If your condition does not improve, brain stimulation therapy may be an option.

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

If you find that other treatments for your thought disorder are not successful, ECT may offer some relief. In this procedure, electric currents are passed through your brain in a controlled setting while you are under general anesthesia.

This triggers a seizure, which causes changes in your brain chemistry and can reverse your depression symptoms. You may be able to decrease medicines for depression after treatment.

Learn more about Electroconvulsive Therapy at IU Health.

Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS)

If you are battling severe schizophrenia, or another type of thought disorder you may be a candidate for rTMS.

This new therapy sends weak magnetic impulses to the frontal lobe of the brain and creates electrical currents that stimulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which are implicated in depression. This resets your brain’s chemistry. It is akin to rebooting your computer. Treatment is needed daily during a four-to-six week period.

Nutrition

Scientific studies show that diets low in sugar and fat are helpful for schizophrenia patients. Eating excess amounts of sugar and saturated fat causes the body to produce less of a protein important in forming new neural growths and synapses in the brain.

A registered dietitian can recommend proper nutrition intake and menus to maximize your health.

Self Help Groups & Support Groups

It is important to feel supported by others as you work to manage your schizophrenia symptoms. Support groups teach you coping skills and let you know you are not alone. Support groups for family members give your family the skills they need to help you recover.

Social Assistance

Clinical social workers are vital to helping you manage important aspects of you or your child’s care. Social workers assist you in making the right accommodations for supportive services, housing and making accommodations at school. You may need help with your finances, or you may need to arrange for a power of attorney or guardianship. A clinical social worker helps you access needed services, as well as applications for disability and medical waivers.

Social Training

You may benefit from social skills training and speech and language therapy. These treatments help you better interact with others. Children may need specialized and highly structured education programs at school.

Specialized Treatment Programs

IU Health psychiatrists, advanced practice nurses and psychotherapists provide comprehensive services for patients with thought disorders. Your care may include emergency care, inpatient psychiatric care, outpatient treatment and both individual and group therapy to maximize your level of functioning.

Outpatient Programs

Mental Health intensive outpatient programs take place onsite, where you’ll spend the day with specialists. You’ll learn skills that help you cope with your condition, and gain insights into how to manage your medicines.

At the end of the day, you will go home. As you get better, you can access long-term community support groups and ongoing supportive care in combination with outpatient sessions at an IU Health office.

Psychotic Disorders Program

The psychotic disorders program at IU School of Medicine treats individuals with schizophrenia in every phase of the illness. The treatment focus is on clinical care, research and personalized therapy designed to build relationships that support your recovery and prevent a relapse.

The Prevention and Recovery Center for Early Psychosis (PARC) is a part of this program and is the only early psychosis clinic in Indiana. PARC specializes in treating individuals in the early stages of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.

The Indiana University Psychotic Disorders Clinic is focused on research and clinical trials. In addition, our affiliation with IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry gives us access to the latest and most innovative research on psychotic disorder treatment options, including rTMS treatments.

Research

The Indiana University Psychotic Disorders Clinic is focused on research and clinical trials. In addition, our affiliation with IU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry gives us access to the latest and most innovative research on psychotic disorder treatment options, including rTMS treatments.

Patient Stories for Schizophrenia & Thought Disorders

Indiana University Psychotic Disorders Clinic

Located at the Larue D. Carter Memorial Hospital, the clinic is focused on research and clinical trials for the treatment of psychotic disorders and mental illnesses. The clinic also trains psychiatric residents, psychologists and medical students.

Resources

Indiana University Psychotic Disorders Clinic

Located at the Larue D. Carter Memorial Hospital, the clinic is focused on research and clinical trials for the treatment of psychotic disorders and mental illnesses. The clinic also trains psychiatric residents, psychologists and medical students.