Hello Mr Ramakrishnan.
This is a tricky question to answer for a mental health professional! I understand your concern about the well known disabling side effects of the anti-psychotic drugs. And so your concern is valid. However, as of today, all treatment recommendations are based on research evidences. And the evidence suggests there is a definite role of medicines in treatment of Schizophrenia
Medicines are not the only treatment for Schizophrenia. They should be combined carefully with psycho-social rehabilitation
technique, appropriate psychotherapy
, community participation exercises, etc. After all, the ultimate aim of treating Schizophrenia should be re-integrate the person into the society. And so, along with all these other techniques, medicines play a major role. Please refer to this link.
Unless there is evidence that Schizophrenia can be treated successfully without medicines, we have to follow the guidelines and current evidence based recommendations. If there are any unwanted side effects your wife is experiencing, you can talk with her doctor and find an alternative to the antipsychotic
drug she is receiving. There are newer generation drugs available which are known to have lesser side effects. If you are worried about future appearance of side effects, you can keep a watch on her symptoms and get her evaluated by her psychiatrist
regularly. This will make sure side effects are diagnosed at an early stage.
You can talk with her psychiatrist about various other modes of treatment in addition to the medication. And now coming back to your question from a different angle. Lack of evidence does not necessarily mean Schizophrenia can not be treated without medicines. But as of today, we do not know a perfect and a fool-proof way of treating Schizophrenia without medication. The treatment can be highly individualized with varying responses. And so, the risk of a relapse and recurrence will be higher if she does not receive medicine, at least for a prescribed course of time.
I hope this helps. Best Regards
Abhijeet Deshmukh, MD