Antipsychotic medication remains a cornerstone of treatment for individuals experiencing psychosis, especially during the acute phase of the illness when psychotic symptoms are most pronounced. Medications reduce or completely stop the frequency and intensity of the psychotic symptoms.
Medications work to reduce the positive symptoms of psychosis – like hallucinations and delusions. Medications have not yet been developed that significantly improve cognitive problems that may also occur in psychosis. This remains a high priority for future research because cognitive abilities such as memory, speed of processing information and attention are better predictors than psychotic symptoms of how well a person functions in everyday life.
Antipsychotic medications can also play an important role in preventing the return of psychosis (relapse). Clients are often encouraged to continue with medication for several years after the resolution of their psychosis to minimize the risk of a return of symptoms. Continuing with medication significantly reduces the risk of relapse.
Modern antipsychotic medications are generally better tolerated than older antipsychotic medications as they have different side effects. Understanding the side-effects and working with the EPI team to reduce or eliminate them is an important element of care.