9 Ways to Manage Your Schizophrenia Medications

Patient Expert
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Managing medications doesn't have to be difficult. Here are some ways to make it easier.

Schedule your doses

A drug like Geodon, needs to be taken with food, so plan to take it with the same meal every day. You can use a 7-day pill box with a.m. and p.m. compartments that you keep on your dining table. A drug taken at night can be left on a night table with a mini carafe of water and a glass. Morning doses can be stored where you keep your coffee pot.

Change dose times as warrantd

If you experience a side effect, a change in dose time can sometimes stop the side effect completely. For instance, instead of taking the pills in the morning and risking being drowsy all day try switching to taking them at night.

Switch the type of drug if necessary

Changes in your life could warrant switching to a new drug. Additionally, the pills might not be as effective. After 20 years, the Stelazine I took stopped working. Dr. Altman switched me to an atypical that luckily didn't cause weight gain. If you continue to have symptoms, ask your doctor if it would make sense to try new medications as they come on the market. Doing this, a friend who heard voices for 10 years was able to stop hearing voices.

Monitor medication side effects

Most of the atypicals, that is, the current generation of drugs used to treat schizophrenia, cause weight gain that can lead to diabetes and heart disease. Yet this is not the guaranteed outcome for everyone living with schizophrenia. See a primary care doctor to get weighed to establish a baseline weight, and to have your sugar levels and blood work monitored as soon as your doctor prescribes an atypical.

Keep track of when you've taken the medication

One peer who takes only two drugs turns her pill bottles upside down after she takes the medication. I keep each day's lid lifted up on my 7-day pill box compartment for the next day's doses. At night, I close that lid and open the next day's lid.

Set pill reminders

Cell phones often have different ring tones you can use for this purpose. Or you can buy a SmartPhone app to use that programs reminders to take medication.

Store medications properly

A bathroom is too humid and hot to store your medication in a medicine cabinet.  I store my pill bottles on a pantry shelf in a clear plastic rectangular bin I bought from the Container Store. If you travel, store your pills in your pocketbook or carry-on bag because suitcases can get lost and be exposed to extreme temperatures.

Buy an attractive pill box

I have a collection of pill boxes I choose to use for when I take my pill at a restaurant. I don't like to be conspicuous when I take out my pill and swallow it. Thus I feel an attractive pill box helps me be discreet or at least look fashionable doing so. Somtimes a pill box can cheer me up like a work of art.

Remember the benefits

Taking medication outweighs the risk of relapsing and having a chronic illness for most people. Only a minority of people can recover without taking maintenance medication. Popping pills, while we're often fraught with mixed feelings about doing this, can give us a competitive advantage in having a better life.