Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that ranges in severity. It can cause serious lifestyle limitations, and it is often treated with a combination of medications and psychotherapy. However, chiropractic can be a complementary or alternative treatment for this disorder.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by “poor emotional responsiveness” and a “breakdown of thought processes”. There can be paranoia, delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and it can have severe “social or occupational dysfunction”. It is typically diagnosed in early adulthood.1 Hallucinations can include sensory items that others cannot perceive (such as seeing things, hearing things, or smelling and feeling things). Delusions include false beliefs, even after they are proven to be illogical. Some of these concern paranoia or persecution. Thought disorders can encompass “disorganized thinking”, where a patient may talk in a strange or illogical way. They may even have “thought blocking” where they stop speaking in the middle of a thought. There might be made-up words, as well, called “neologisms”. Schizophrenia can also include movement disorders and “agitated body movements” that can be repetitive, or even catatonia (unresponsiveness). Finally, patients with schizophrenia might also have “flat affect” (emotionless), and lack the ability to perform daily activities and hygiene, as well as trouble focusing and remembering.2 Most causes are still unknown, but there may be life events involved, as well as genetic triggers, or family history.3
Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed treatment for schizophrenia. They can be helpful in managing symptoms, but they have some serious side effects, such as jitteriness, dizziness, sedation, tremor, weight gain, and slowed movements. The long-term side effects can lead to a movement disorder called “tardive dyskinesia” (repeated movements out of the patient’s control). Clozapine is another medication prescribed for those who don’t respond to antipsychotics. It can reduce symptoms, but it has more side-effects. The therapies involved in treating people with schizophrenia tend to be centered on support programs, social skills, and behavioral and occupational training. The risks of not treating schizophrenia can include alcohol and drug abuse, physical illness, and suicide.4
Chiropractic Options for Schizophrenia
There have been historical chiropractic treatments for mental disorders. The Clearview Sanitarium was “Chiropractics most renowned and famous psychiatric hospital (1926-1951)”, where patients with schizophrenia and other mental disorders were treated.5 B.J. Palmer, son of the founder of modern chiropractic, believed in the “oneness of mind and body”, and he “operated the Clearview and Forest Park Sanitariums in Iowa”. Candace Pert, PhD, stated, “My research has shown me that the body can and must be healed through the mind, and the mind can and must be healed through the body.” One chiropractic finding is that “while the patient may have healed emotionally, the body still holds the…tension…of the emotionally stressful event”. Chiropractic aims to “update the body” and bring it into balance with the mind.6 Some researchers today are using non-medical methods of treating mental disorders. In fact, some are using “Vitamin C, the B Complex, zinc and manganese supplements” to help treat schizophrenia.7 There are a host of other alternative, dietary, and supplemental treatments being researched now to manage both the symptoms of schizophrenia and the side-effects of tardive dyskinesia and medical prescriptions.8 Chiropractic looks at patients holistically and tries to avoid treatments with side-effects. It can explored as a complement or alternative to traditional medical care.