Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Improving Son's SZ and Reduce Meds directed by Doctor

My 33 year old son who has been on 4 mg of Risperidone and Cogentin for Sz met with his Doc last week and she was stunned that in the last six and half months on the medication he has not had one episode (voices). She wants him to stop taking Cogentin and increase his does of Propranolol (20mg). Also, the plan is to slowly reduce his Risperidone (4 mg) in the next month or so. I’ve read that reducing those meds improve cognitive and memory skills with very little chance of relapse. Your thoughts and experience on this.

Is your son being taken off of risperidone completely? Technically your son only has one episode of psychosis so perhaps he really doesn’t need to take anti-psychotics anymore. I personally would never take that risk and would always take at least a maintenance dose of anti-psychotics.

I am wondering whether the cognitive and memory problems with your son has to do with medications or with his schizophrenia. Regardless, cognitive and memory skills require constant use of the brain. That is what one psychiatrist told me to always continue to use my brain. Your mind becomes dull if you don’t use it. Reading and studying new things can be good way to train the brain. When I had cognitive symptoms long time ago, I would also watch TV shows all the time so I can hear and remember what people are saying.

Exercise and meditation will help with memory and concentration. From the Happiness Course by a Yale Professor, exercise and meditation are crucial even to a normal person with happiness.

I should clarify. My son’s Doc did not say to eliminate risperidone but reduce the amount and hopefully reduce it down to a maintenance (as you mentioned). I am trying to get him involved in problem solving by working 3 days a week, taking on graphic projects on line, watching TV together, playing video games that involve quests and we bike ride everyday for exercise. Before COVID, he was working out at the gym but now that is history. Thank you so much for your input.

You should have him really look into meditation. I use three apps for meditation, look into which one suits your son the best. They are Headspace, Insight Timer and Simple Habit. Personally, I prefer Headspace because it really teaches you mindfulness, visualization and other meditation techniques. Meditation has helped me tremendously throughout the years. It made me a calmer, more kind and compassionate person. Mindfulness also really helped with my ADHD symptoms, involving distractability and focus and concentration.

Another thing with the mind is that I made a lot of mistakes during my first two months returning to work from schizophrenia. I really really lacked focus and concentration, making mistakes on the most simple tasks. I got better after two months of continuous practice though. So as I mentioned, practice really makes perfect. If he continues to read, study, work and exercise his mind, he will get back his cognitive faculties.

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I agree with Lyrik here, practicing concentration and focus pays off immensely. I’m vaguely musical, so I took up singing and guitar and eventually acting (via musical theatre). I didn’t realize it at the time, but a large part of this is listening and it paid off in my ability to follow and read conversations and context, and avoid distractions. But it’s important to realize there’s a duality, you built focus and introspection so you can go into the world— not retreat within.

I took voice to learn to improve my singing, but this was with the goal to singing in groups or within the framework of a musical. I quickly learned that it was much more complex than I thought, to do this you needed to listen to others and adapt and fit in. This was especially important when I started acting, I learned to have a coherent performance you have to listen and play off the strengths (and weaknesses) of your peers. Learning individual skills is great, but unless you are a rare person who can function as an island, you need to get along with other people to return to society. I certainly do better one-on-one or in small groups than large groups, and with people I know rather than strangers, but with practice over the years I’m comfortable in most situations unless the environment is extremely noisy or if foreign languages I’m not fluent in are spoken.

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