A schizophrenia injection delivers long-acting medication to a patient required to re-take the medication at intervals ranging from several weeks to a month. Also called a depot injection, it is delivered into thick muscle tissue like the buttocks, where the medication can slowly spread over time into the patient’s bloodstream. There are several advantages to using a schizophrenia injection, including reduced risk of relapse as well as increased patient compliance with medication. Some ethical concerns have been raised about the risk of coerced medication with depot injections, while advocates believe they increase patient choice.
Several schizophrenia medications can be delivered in the form of a depot injection. The patient typically meets with a medical provider for a brief session before the injection to discuss any symptoms, side effects, and issues that may have arisen. This provides an opportunity to check in and identify problems before they become serious; for example, if the medication is growing less effective for the patient, it can be helpful to know this as early as possible. Once the interview is over, the patient can receive the injection, which will last several weeks to a month.
Patients choosing a schizophrenia injection don’t have to remember to periodically take medication to manage their schizophrenia. They may find it easier to adhere to the treatment regimen and are less likely to experience a relapse because their medication remains consistent. It can also be easier to manage therapy and other aspects of a treatment plan when the medication suppresses symptoms like paranoia, hallucinations, and anxiety. Health care professionals may recommend a schizophrenia injection to a patient interested in more lasting control.
Some stigma surrounds the use of injections for mental illness. They are associated with institutional treatment, or court-ordered treatment programs for people released on parole or for compassionate medical reasons. Because of this, some patients are reluctant to consider a schizophrenia injection for treatment of their illness, even though some studies suggest these medications can be very effective when offered from the start. Rather than waiting for a relapse on oral medication, a doctor may recommend starting depot injection therapy to help a patient stay stable.
There are also some ethical concerns with such medications, because some mental health advocates believe they could be used to coerce patients into treatment. Addressing these concerns can involve the use of informed consent in patient care, where patients have an opportunity to discuss all their options, along with the risks and benefits. Documenting this process can also allow mental health professionals to show that patients are taking an active role in their treatment, rather than being compelled to accept a specific medication or method of drug delivery.