For people with schizophrenia, auditory hallucinations are a fact of life albeit an unwanted one. The voices in your head, unfortunately, cannot be silenced so easily and solely by positive reinforcement. These can be significantly silenced, fortunately, by the use of antipsychotic medication like Abilify.
How Antipsychotic Medications Work
Psychiatrists prescribe antipsychotics as the first – and often the most important and effective – defense against auditory hallucinations in schizophrenic patients. Known as neuroleptics, these medications are 80 to 90 percent effective in providing relief against the voices and, thus, improving the quality of daily life. In many cases, the neuroleptics can even make the auditory hallucinations disappear completely.
Antipsychotic medication works in several ways including:
- Decrease the frequency of the auditory hallucinations
- Decrease the compulsion to engage the voices in your head, such as in obeying their commands or in believing them about your worth as a person
- Decrease the anxiety caused by the voices in your head, thanks to the medications’ mild tranquilizing effect
Even when you take your antipsychotic medications according to your doctor’s prescription, you may still hear the voices in your head. But you will likely feel more detached from them such that you will not feel so compelled to follow their commands or believe their words.
Patient-Doctor Relationship Is a Must
But as any schizophrenic patient and his psychiatrist know, the biggest issue with antipsychotic medications is that each person responds in a different manner to the same medication. You may, for example, respond well to a medication but a fellow patient will not for many reasons.
You must then maintain a close working relationship with your doctor so that the best possible medication protocol can be established in your case. You have to cooperate with your doctor from monitoring your symptoms and response to the drugs to finding the best drug combination. You and your family have to work together, too, since you will need a strong and supportive group to help you cope with your illness.
Your doctor will recommend a diary for keeping track of the voices in your head. You should take note of things like:
- How often you hear then during the day and night
- How nice or nasty they have been including the words they have said
- How strongly you felt compelled to follow their commands, believe what they say, and engage them in conversation
With your diary in hand, you can tell your doctor about your response to the prescribed medications. You may have your medications changed or adjusted depending on your response.