Why do people with schizophrenia stop taking their medication?
Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
There are a variety of reasons why some people stop taking their schizophrenia medication. They include the following:
  • They think they no longer need it when symptoms improve.
  • Their condition may reduce their ability and motivation to follow directions.
  • They may also feel embarrassed to take medication for a mental illness.
  • Some people with paranoid schizophrenia may also refuse to take medication because they do not trust the doctor or the drug.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

There are about as many reasons why people stop taking their medication for any medical problem, including schizophrenia, as there are fish in the sea. That being said, there are two very common reasons why people with schizophrenia stop taking their meds. First is, some people may not take their medications because they don’t realize or believe that they are actually sick. Second, some schizophrenia medications have unpleasant and uncomfortable side effects, so people will stop taking their meds to avoid experiencing them.

It is incredibly important, however, to realize that stopping cold turkey can be extremely dangerous, so talk to your doctor before you stop.

People with schizophrenia may stop taking their medication because it can have side-effects, some of which can be unpleasant. Some common side effects of antipsychotic medications include weight gain, sleepiness, stiffness, susceptibility to diabetes, and rarely, a disorder called tardive dyskenisia, which causes involuntary muscle movements. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome is another rare disorder that sometimes happens after treatment with antipsychotic drugs; people who develop this will be treated in the hospital.

People with schizophrenia may also find it difficult to continue taking their medications due to financial or living problems; some people with schizophrenia are homeless due to the severity of their illness, or otherwise lack medical care. Some people with schizophrenia begin feeling better and conclude that they no longer need to take their medication, but then become much more likely to have their symptoms reoccur. Community programs and resources may provide assistance to people who lack the funds or support to continue taking their medication.

Continue Learning about Schizophrenia


Schizophrenia is a disorder that shows its symptoms in the late teens to early 20s. You hear voices, see things that aren't there, believe others are after you, which makes you paranoid. Schizophrenia is a very serious disorder, r...

equiring medications and psychotherapy - which, for many people, can greatly improve quality of life.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.