Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Alternative options vs antipsychotics

#1

My husband was diagnosed schiz in 1996 at the age of 25. Since then he has been on several different medications and hospitalized twice. At first he was just taking an antipsychotic and an antidepressant. In the past 5 years he has had to add in an anti anxiety med, high blood pressure med and high cholesterol med. He is also taking a high dose of vitamin D once a week. The biggest issue we are having is getting him off of Olanzapine and onto another with less side effects. Every time we go lower than 5mg he starts getting really angry and paranoid and lashes out at everyone around him. He is now so tired of “trying something new” he wants to go off of the antipsychotics all together because of the side effects. My question: has anyone had success with treating sz with vitamins, supplements, diet and or exercise? I was reading about something called Targeted Advanced Nutrient Therapy. I was also reading about the 5 different bio types associated with schizophrenia patients. Over methylated, Pyrrole, Undermethylated, Other, and Gluten Intolerance. My obvious concern is that he will start having episodes if he goes off of his sz meds which has never gone well in the past. Even changing from one to another is very tricky and stressful for both of us. I was just hoping to get some feedback on this topic and to see if anyone has had any success with the natural route.
Thank you all in advance.

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#2

Hi Trixiedb1,

There is a co-forum if you go to schizophrenia.com that is all about medication. On there are discussions about prescription meds and alternatives. TheSunshineMaras has been posting on both forums, does a lot of independent research and has had good results with alternative therapies.

The other alternative would be to find a care provider who understands the complications of your husband’s condition better than whoever he is seeing now. There are many combinations of medicines and there could be a different combination that would work better for him.

I’m sure this is very hard on him and you as well. Stay strong. My heart goes out to you both.

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#3

Thank you. I was advised to come to this forum as a family member so I guess I’m not sure which site to use. Thank you for your feedback and well wishes. We will be trying some supplements recommended in the Prescription for Nutritional Healing book for those suffering from Sz. along with continuing current meds until we find a good combo.

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#4

Hi @Trixiedb1 . Welcome back. You can join all 3 forums on this site if you want to. You have found the right place for support. No other place has been as supportive or educational. My family was the worst for support; friends were the next worst support. I’ve come here almost daily for a year now. My daughter got sz about 3 years ago. She is 35 now. All our lives, we used non-prescription solutions and used supplement-wise advice before antibiotics or medicines. I was on the unmedicated thread 8 months but as of Dec 18 my daughter is on a successful anti-psychotic after arrest/forced hospitalization/court ordered meds. Previously, we found some small success with non-prescription items improving some symptoms, but the anti-psychotic was a miracle in handling almost all of her symptoms. I know that trying to change or eliminate medicines can cause a host of bad effects, and the wrong medicines can too. We tried a hospital pharmacist who as her “other” job runs a natural pharmacy with non-prescription items. You can try botanicalresource.com . She does phone consultations and is a wonderful woman to know. We use the anti-psychotic medicine plus some homeopathics, vitamins, protein shakes and she has a “normal” life now, including a job and a bit of a social life. I wish you luck in your search for help with your husband.

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#5

I agree. My daughter takes Abilify and Celexa. Has your husband tried Abilify? The hallucinations are still there, but not as often and the voices are more quiet. My daughter says the side effects aren’t as bad for her as other antipsycotics were. Abilify doesn’t work for everyone though. We also add in a super complex B vitamin, D3, omega 3, multivitamin with a lot of folate, NAC, and protein drinks. I strongly believe that weekly counseling has helped her a lot, too. Good luck!

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#6

Hi @Trixiedb1,

My son is also on Zyprexa. They started him on 15 Mg last October 2018 while hospitalized, (although the doctor there said he responded well to 10mg). So I’m not sure why he increased it right before discharge, and he was only in there for 7 days, so really not enough time to see if 10mg would continue to stabilize him.

We had his monthly therapy appointment this past Friday, and his dosage is now
7.5 mg. They had gradually tapered it since November of last year (at my asking over and over if this would be a possibility). They NEVER would have suggested it. And thankfully it’s also the only AP he’s taking currently, and for that I’m grateful.

But like you, I know eventually we have to consider some awful side effects from this drug. High blood pressure and cholesterol are a huge concern, as well as possible weight gain. (So far, my son did not experience the weight gain). I mentioned the slowing down of the metabolic process from this drug, and the therapist did agree. And she added, “well he’s still so young, we won’t have to worry about that for now”. What??? So let’s just wait until something terrible happens and THEN address it!!! These doctors…(shaking my head).

I also noticed she never ever mentions blood tests to see exactly where he is as checking for some of these side effects. So, I mentioned it this past Friday. They are going to draw his blood beginning of May.

Our goal is to continue to have his dosage be lowered, and add other natural options. I mentioned a few items to the doctor including sarcosine, L-Theanine, and Lions mane. She indicated that while supplements were important, it still can’t do the job that AP’s do. And I’m sure this is true, but I want my son taking the most minimal amount of ANY drug, IF working for him. There is no reason he would need double the dosage if not needed.
She is, like most doctors, very pro-med. Whenever I mention a concern, she takes out her prescription pad, with that look (there’s a cure for that). Ugh.
Thanks, but no.

So we are going to continue to hope that my sons dosage is continually lowered, and have it work, but we are also going to try changing both of our diets drastically. Less meats and more veggies and fruits as well as supplements. I’m goimg to be the guina pig and try these supplements first, before I lay that on my son. Starting with sarcosine.

Yes it truly is hell being on so many different meds. I saw my mother & father go thru it in their later years. The pills often interact with each other and can sometimes do more damage, especially to the liver.

I hope you can find a good balance for your husband, including supplements and a good diet. And you are correct, switching up the meds to try to find the right one is also tricky business.

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#7

I agree with you. I keep my daughter on the lowest amount possible. We have to really advocate for our loved ones. It’s nice to be able to share stories on this forum.

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#8

Not sure where to be. Our daughter Bipolar ! with psychosis…right now on the Invega Sustanna shot… other meds… gained 100 lbs… over 3 yrs when started shot. Lived in KY, we in MA. Felon BF she found online… looongg story. Have her back in MA. She’s so kind and sweet, 37 y.o. But can’t function as well as could. Has BSW and MSSW from U of L but never worked… just got degrees in last few y ears… can’t read now… emotions flat… etc… SOOOOO had her evaluated at McLean… We live 2 hrs away but close enough to get to go Drs in Boston. Her main psychiatrist is at Brighams but works closely with McLean…Evaluation shows deep layer of depression happening… recommending course of ECT… now she has responded well to this when fully manic, psychotic. We’re away… she’s at home… When we go back she’ll go inpatient at McLean for the treatment and to re-visit meds etc… so yes, I’m so nervous for her. This is a huge leap of faith she is taking. She knows she has responded well to ECT in the past but again, it’s scary. She knows she’s not stable but knows well— she can be your worse nightmare if they trigger mania which is my concern. In someways would like to leave her alone but I guess that’s just not realistic… local psychiatrist works for ServiceNet a vendor (for profit) for Dept of MI. He’s terrible… they all are… Actually say non-profit but that’s not so… a lot of $$$ made and services minimal. However, they work fine for some… She’s not easy…
I do know someone who has had very successful ECT with maintenance ETC.
I guess all we can do is hope… in someways if this could work without all the oral meds…maybe just lithium which she responds well to… that would be nice…

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#9

Each of us tries our best for our loved ones. I wish there was an easy solution. Your daughter is very lucky to have you to help her. My daughter no longer tries to read or study anything, really I wish she had some drive to do that, but it just isn’t there. I would be nervous too, if I were you, about the ECT. I really don’t know anything about that type of treatment. I hope things go well for you and your daughter. My daughter’s diagnosis went between Bipolar with psychosis and schizophrenia, they finally decided on schizophrenia.

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#10

A healthy diet, fresh air, sunshine and exercise is a good idea for all of us. But we are talking about a serious brain disorder.

There are some people who are very anti med preferring natural solutions. And maybe it works for a few, but by and large, anti psych meds are necessary. Your experience is he does not do well with going off meds. Do not discount that experience.

My son made the choice your husband is talking about. He used skills learned in CBT and did show some gains for 2 years. But he is currently sitting in jail when he unexpectedly took a turn for the worse.

So that is a risk you and your husband must be willing to take. I hope for the best for you.

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#11

I really like the idea of combining both medications and natural means under advisory of the doctor as long as they don’t interact against each other. I would approach it by asking the p-doc if such and such supplement would be okay to take. I know my daughter can tell the difference when she misses her meds at night… Not that long ago, she remembered to take her haldol, but forgot her cogentin… she wasn’t doing well the next day… that night she remembered all her meds and she was doing a lot better.

Now for my ADHD, I am trying out natural means first (trying out Omega-3 first), but if I don’t see improvement I will seek out going on medication. My hesitation is I am not sure how we can afford TWO of us going to a p-doc… I also think my daughter’s mental illness is far more serious than my ADHD.

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#12

In NAMI meetings, the leaders urge participants not to compare illnesses (whose is worse, etc.) however, just as cancer is far more serious than a benign growth, psychosis is far more serious than anxiety, just as examples. The number of people who truly have experienced hallucinations and delusions is far smaller than the numbers who suffer from depression or anxiety. I certainly would NEVER make light of someone’s depression or anxiety, at all, but psychosis is a whole other battle… a truly scary battle, full of twists and turns and unwelcome surprises. Even when the battle is being won, the fear of something upsetting the delicate balance is so strong.

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#13

We are currently exploring a holistic approach to my son’s SZ that includes supplements, diet, and exercise. I read Dr. Walsh’s book, ‘Nutrient Power’ and became intrigued about the possibility of improving my son’s quality of life by using these methods. I know he really needs his AP injection bc when he was taken off the meds last year, he became homeless and self-medicated with meth & herioin. It was a big mistake for his Psychiatrist to take him off ‘court-ordered meds.’ And it has already been stated in this thread, we are dealing with a serious brain disorder, one that needs to be considered by carefully.

We have a center in Sedona, AZ called ‘Alternatives to Meds’ and they use a complete holistic approach to help people get off drugs. It costs $60k for 2 months so that’s out of my budget. But, they confirmed for me that it is possible for those afflicted with mental illness (and on meds) to considerably improve the quality of their lives.

So, we are just starting the protocol by doing comprehensive blood & urine tests to determine what vitamins/supplements and other holistic remedies he needs. And it will also measure the 5 different bio types you described in your post. We’re waiting on the results before proceeding…

In the meantime, his wellness Doctor suggested that he would do best on a ‘gluten, sugar, dairy-free’ food plan. I’ve started to introduce this to my son and needless to say it ain’t easy getting him to give up the junk food. But, I’m confident that it will improve his mental well-being and plan to keep encouraging him to eat better and exercise.

Best wishes to you and your husband and look forward to hearing if you decide to pursue this as well.

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#14

Wondering if you could fill me in on your success with lowering the meds. My son is on Zyprexa as well he is down to 6.25 and is doing well but it’s only been eight days at that dose.
. He is also on Depakote which they are lowering as well. I’m a firm believer in diet and Whole Food nutrition. We have been taking a whole product as well as plant based Omegas 3,5 6,7,9 which our doing A great job so far. I’m also going to be adding magnesium L-threonate.
He is currently in a group home for a brain injury out of our state because my state offers nothing and cannot find help with the mental illness because Brain injury trumps MI. I am contemplating bringing him home but I believe I’m suffering from PTSD because of the horrific things we went through prior to his brain injury and what led to his brain injury… Needless to say I am scared to death because I couldn’t get any help when we were in crisis.
So I am very new to all this at least I consider it new it’s been two years and he has been doing well. He still hears voices and believes them to be somebody putting them there but he is dealing with it.He also as paranoia yet doesn’t have a problem with going out as long as he’s with me and talking to other people.
I guess my question is did you switch to another medication And do you just go off the medication and then on to something else when you need it. Believe it or not my sons doctor does not talk to me I have to go through third-party and I can’t get questions answered. I am at a complete loss I’m torn about what to do.

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#15

@Misty,

Hi, my son has been on Zyprexa since October, 2018 (his last hospitalization). Long story how he ended up in there, but they started him on 10 mg and his doc said he was responding well, and he was. He called me a few times a day and sounded like my son. But, for whatever reason, he increased the dosage to 15 mg ( I was mad) the last day he was there. Well since then he has been seeing a psychiatrist monthly and we asked about the reduction. She was also puzzled as to why it was increased. On 15 mg, all he did was sleep and tired constantly.

So they tapered it by 2.5mg every couple of months, he is now @ 7.5 mg. He is for the most part stable, but still doesn’t want to leave his apt and lacks motivation. The thoughts or voices seem to have disappeared and no major delusions. But he is still very much paranoid, and overly suspicious of everyone.

I mentioned some supplements to his therapist, and she really never gives me definitive answers regarding the addition of supplements. She did mention sometimes they can interact and possibly lower the potency of the AP’s. I truly believe she is all about the meds. She really doesn’t want to hear about anything else.

So we are @ 7.5 mg and trying to just eat as healthy as possible. A lot of fish and chicken, (he’s weird about red meat), and lots of veggies and fruits. He decided to just cut out all sugar and dairy (I could never do that) and he’s doing well with that.

When are they planning on releasing your son from the group home? Or is that indefinite? I’ve also heard a lot on here about Depakote being paired with an AP. My son was prescribed ONLY Zyprexa.

How has he been doing so far on Zyprexa? What dosage did he start at?

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#16

They started my son on 12.5 then lowered him to 10, 8.5, 7.5 and now 6.25. He’s actually doing well but he has is gained 50 pounds and the extreme side effects scare me to death so I wanted to switch to Vaylar but I’m not sure if this is the right thing to do. He is also on 750 of Depokot Which I want him off of as well. This doctor tried lowering from 12.5 to 5 and he had extreme paranoia. If I don’t stop him he will make drastic cuts.

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#17

How Many months in between before they lower it when your son?

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#18

I think by December he was on 12.5, February 10mg. She said the pills could only be reduced by 2.5 mg but I’m reading about others like yourself who reduced by 1.25.

What kind of side effects besides the weight gain Is he having? I found an awful page on FB called olanzapine should be illegal. I get so scared.

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#19

When my husband was first diagnosed they put him on Risperdal which he was on for several years. That helped for a while but the episodes were pretty intense when they came even on the meds. He was very flat most of the time and the paranoia was still there. Eventually he ended up just going completely off meds due to a lack of support from the local medical community. After a specific situation that caused a major blow up happened things got really bad. We eventually moved back to his hometown and he was very suicidal which eventually landed him in the hospital. This ended up being a big turning point for him. He realized he needed to stay on meds no matter what. We found a great pdoc who has been with us for over 10 years. She is constantly trying to find what is best for his symptoms with the least amount of side effects. He’s currently transitioning off of Rexulti and onto Vraylar. His body is still needing a small dose of Zyprexa so he’s on 5mg along with 120mg Cymbalta and 1.5mg of Lorazepam. He was on 4mg of Rexulti but his moods and paranoia were still pretty unstable. I’ve recently added in Niacin, b12, flaxseed oil, GABA and Zinc, and his pdoc has him on 50,000 units of d3 a week. It’s a lot to keep track of and we have also been changing our food. No flour, sugar or wheat. I feel like he’s feeling better but we’re still in the middle of the med change so we’ll see how it goes. Thank you all again for sharing your stories and you feedback. I wish you all peace and patience while we do our best to help our loved ones deal with this terrible illness.
:purple_heart:

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#20

I know i heard it’s bad as well. All they have to do is cut the 2.50 in half. I feel crippled. He has a slight tremble in his hands and he has a slight movement and his CK levels are elevated. He interacts with all of us and tries really hard to not show his brain injury problems.Are you trying to decrease to another med?

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