Other Medication You Might Need To Take
If you experience psychosis, you may experience other mental health issues, like depression, mania, anxiety, and the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
So you may be prescribed anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants or mood stabilisers along with your antipsychotics. This is relatively common the medications are often used together.
Risk Factors For Schizophrenia
Different factors combine to heighten the risk of schizophrenia, says Dr. Bowers:
- Genetics: Having a relative with schizophrenia or one who displays schizophrenic behaviors increases risk.
- Life stressors: Extreme poverty homelessness traumatic events early in life early isolation or deprivation or a constant fight for survival heighten risk.
- Hallucinogens: The use of crystal meth, LSD, PCP or psilocybin mushrooms increases risk in the vulnerable.
Signs And Causes Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is thought to be the result of a culmination of biological and environmental factors. While there is no known cause of schizophrenia, there are genetic, psychological, and social factors thought to play a role in the development of this chronic disorder.1
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What We Are Doing
In our joint manifesto for better mental health we ask the next Government to introduce a quantified national reduction in premature mortality a major health inequality is people with mental ill health dying 20 years younger than the general population.
We want them to commit to a clear, transparent programme for maximum waiting times for mental health services everyone in mental distress should have speedy access to crisis care, and be able to access psychological therapies.
We also ask them to commit to continue momentum around the Crisis Care Concordat.
Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating brain and behavior disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and acts. People with schizophrenia can have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, expressing and managing normal emotions and making decisions. Thought processes may also be disorganized and the motivation to engage in lifes activities may be blunted. Those with the condition may hear imaginary voices and believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them.
While schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, it can be treated with medication, psychological and social treatments, substantially improving the lives of people with the condition.
A moving presentation by Dr. Kafui Dzirasa on Schizophrenia
View Webinar on Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30.
Learn more about childhood-onset schizophrenia from this expert researcher:
Find answers to more questions about Schizophrenia in our Ask the Expert section.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three broad categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms
Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms often “lose touch” with reality. These symptoms can come and go. Sometimes they are severe and at other times hardly noticeable, depending on whether the individual is receiving treatment. They include the following:
Hallucinations are things a person sees, hears, smells, tastes, or feels that no one else can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel. “Voices” are the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia. Many people with the disorder hear voices. The voices may talk to the person about his or her behavior, order the person to do things, or warn the person of danger. Sometimes the voices talk to each other. People with schizophrenia may hear voices for a long time before family and friends notice the problem.
Other types of hallucinations include seeing people or objects that are not there, smelling odors that no one else detects, and feeling things like invisible fingers touching their bodies when no one is near. Hearing voices is the most common type of hallucination in schizophrenia.
People with negative symptoms need help with everyday tasks. They often neglect basic personal hygiene. This may make them seem lazy or unwilling to help themselves, but the problems are symptoms caused by the schizophrenia.
What Happens At The Hospital
About one-third of people with schizophrenia dont believe anything is wrong with them. Many more dont seek help on their own, for cultural reasons or because they lack resources.
So problems often come to light only when their erratic behavior or other troubles trigger a crisis. Patients are often brought to the hospital by family, teachers or the police, says Dr. Bowers.
To decide whether to admit someone, psychiatrists consider whether patients pose a risk to themselves or others whether they can take care of themselves and whether they could benefit from hospital treatment.
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Take Action If You Think You Or Your Loved One Is In Danger
If you think your loved one is at risk of harming themselves or others and they refuse help, it is possible to have them evaluated by a psychiatrist under the Mental Health Act. This process may involve police and other first responders, and it can be a difficult and stressful process for everyone. But it can also be a necessary step if someone is in danger. You can learn more about the Mental Health Act in the info sheet Families Coping with a Crisis and you can find the Guide to the Mental Health Act at www.health.gov.bc.ca/library/publications/year/2005/MentalHealthGuide.pdf. For a more in-depth discussion of the Mental Health Act, see a video with lawyer and health law consultation Gerrit Clements.
If your loved one says that they have thoughts of ending their life, its important to take action. Call 1-800-SUICIDE at any time or message online at www.crisiscentrechat.ca between noon and 1am. If you think your loved one is in immediate danger, you can always call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room.
Where can I learn more?
- Dealing with Psychosis: A Toolkit for Moving Forward with Your Life is aimed at people experiencing schizophrenia, but it has good information on symptoms and strategies for managing the illness. There is also a chapter for support people
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Maintain Your Social Network
Try to maintain your friendships or the network of people that you have in your life. These will later become important supports as your loved one recovers. Educate them and update them on your loved one’s recovery. People are sometimes afraid to ask questions about schizophrenia and this will put them at ease.
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Living With Schizophrenia Statistics
Only about 15 percent of people diagnosed with schizophrenia are able to work full time. This means that they are likely to struggle with paying rent or a mortgage. They are likely to struggle to pay for healthcare insurance. These are some of the reasons why so many individuals with schizophrenia are homeless. Yet, with ongoing treatment and a comprehensive array of support, people with schizophrenia can lead happy, productive lives. When their symptoms are in check, people with schizophrenia can function well in society.
The key to managing schizophrenia optimally is to obtain medical care at a facility that specializes in mental and behavioral health conditions. Like many mental health disorders, schizophrenia typically requires multiple types of support that include therapy, medication, and holistic support. Given this multi-tiered support, schizophrenia patients can expect to enjoy excellent disease management, allowing them to lead fulfilling lives.
What Are The Early Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
The condition usually shows its first signs in men in their late teens or early 20s. It mostly affects women in their early 20s and 30s. The period when symptoms first start and before full psychosis is called the prodromal period. It can last days, weeks, or even years. It can be hard to spot because thereâs usually no specific trigger. You might only notice subtle behavioral changes, especially in teens. This includes:
- A change in grades
- Difficulty sleeping
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Someone I Love Has Been Diagnosed With Schizophrenia How Can I Help
We naturally want to help a loved one who isnt feeling well. How we can or should help may seem fairly obvious when a loved one experiences a physical health problem, but many people say theyre not sure how to best help when a loved one experiences a mental illness like schizophrenia. Here are some tips:
Encourage Your Loved One To Keep Up With Their Treatment And Recovery Plan
This is very important! You are not responsible for your loved ones treatment , but you can support them. Schizophrenia can make it difficult for people to make and go to appointments and follow their treatment plan. With your loved ones permission, you may choose to help by reminding them of appointments, taking them to appointments, or whatever helps in your situation. If your loved one isnt happy with their treatment or would like to try a new approach, you can encourage them to talk with their care team, like their doctor or mental health teamit can be dangerous to stop or change a treatment without a doctors support.
Treatment can be a difficult area for loved ones. Its hard to see someone you love in pain. You might be scared of the things your loved one is experiencing. You want to help. But in order for any treatment to work, your loved one needs to be active in their care. Forcing or threatening treatment generally doesnt work and can often hurt everyone involved. In most cases, anyone 19 years of age and older and not at risk of harm is free to make their own choices. And their choices may include refusing treatment or choosing a treatment that you disagree with. It helps everyone if you can be respectful and keep honest communication open between you. You can learn more about dealing with this situation in Q& A: An adult in my life seems ill and wont find help. What can I do?.
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What Are The Three Phases Of Schizophrenia
Research has identified schizophrenia to have three phases, these are as follows:
- Acute / active
It may sometimes seem as though schizophrenia suddenly develops out of nowhere, this, however, is not the case. There is no such thing as waking up one morning and have bouts of full-blown psychosis. The disease instead consists of psychotic symptoms that slowly start to appear, and the sufferer begins to show a way of thinking that is distorted and has difficulty relating to others.
The phases can be explained accordingly:
What Myths Are There About Schizophrenia
There are some myths or mistaken beliefs about schizophrenia which come from the media. For example,
- Schizophrenia means someone has a split personality
This is not the case. The mistake may come from the fact that the name ‘schizophrenia’ comes from two Greek words meaning ‘split’ and ‘mind’.
- Schizophrenia causes people to be violent
Research shows that only a small number of people with the illness may become violent. The same way as a small minority of the general public may become violent.
People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them. But as these incidents can be shocking, the media often report them in a way which emphasises the mental health diagnosis. This can create fear and stigma in the general public.
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Chemical Changes In The Brain
A series of complex interrelated chemicals in the brain, called neurotransmitters, are responsible for sending signals between brain cells.
Low levels or imbalances of these chemicals are believed to play a role in the development of schizophrenia and other mental health conditions.
Dopamine, in particular, seems to play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
Researchers have found evidence that dopamine causes an overstimulation of the brain in people with schizophrenia. It may account for some of the symptoms of the condition.
Glutamate is another chemical thats been linked to schizophrenia. Evidence has pointed toward its involvement. However, there are a number of limitations to this research.
Complications before and during birth may increase the likelihood a person will develop mental health disorders, including schizophrenia.
These complications include:
Because of the ethics involved in studying pregnant women, many of the studies that have looked at the connection between prenatal complications and schizophrenia have been on animals.
Women with schizophrenia are at an increased risk for complications during pregnancy.
Its unclear if their children are at an increased likelihood for developing the condition because of genetics, pregnancy complications, or a combination of the two.
What Can I Do To Manage Schizophrenia
People deal with their experience in different ways. You might need to try different things before finding something that works.
You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support. Hearing about the experiences of others can help you feel understood. This may help you feel less alone and boost your self-confidence.
You might be able to find a local group by searching online. Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area, or get help to set up your own support group if you follow this link:
Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.
Recovery colleges are part of the NHS. They offer free courses about mental health to help you manage your experiences. They can help you to take control of your life and become an expert in your own wellbeing and recovery. You can usually self-refer to a recovery college. But the college may tell your care team.
Unfortunately, recovery colleges are not available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.
Peer support through the NHS
- side effects,
- recognising and coping with symptoms,
- what to do in a crisis,
- meeting other people who can support you, and recovery.
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First Episode Of Psychosis
The first episode of psychosis refers to when you first show signs of being unable to distinguish whats real from what isnt. It typically involves hallucinations and delusions, which can seem very real to the person experiencing them.
Experts say the average age at which people first experience psychosis is 24 years old. The oldest age of onset was 63 years and the youngest age was 3 years.
Acting quickly to connect yourself or your loved one with the right treatment during early psychosis can help dramatically. If you are a family member or friend, consider reaching out to a healthcare professional on behalf of the person you care about.
Are People With Schizophrenia Dangerous
Popular books and movies often depict people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses as dangerous and violent. This usually isnât true. Most people with schizophrenia are not violent. More typically, they prefer to withdraw and be left alone. When people with mental illness do take part in dangerous or violent behaviors, itâs generally a result of their psychosis and the fear that theyâre being threatened in some way by their surroundings. Drug or alcohol use can make it worse.
On the other hand, people with schizophrenia can be a danger to themselves. Suicide is the top cause of premature death among people with schizophrenia.
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The Default Mode Network
When weâre just hanging out — the dishes are done, weâve finished our homework, or we’ve completed a tough project at work — our thoughts are free to roam. This âdefault modeâ allows us time to daydream, reflect, and plan. It helps us process our thoughts and memories. Scientists call this the default mode network. When weâre not focused on a given task, it âlights up.” If you have schizophrenia, your default mode network seems to be in overdrive. You may not be able to pay attention or remember information in this mode, one study shows.
Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning, long before the first severe episode. Often, friends or family members will know early on that something is wrong, without knowing exactly what.
In this early phase of schizophrenia, you may seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive to others. You may start to isolate yourself, begin neglecting your appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. You may abandon hobbies and activities, and your performance at work or school can deteriorate.
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At What Age Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed
Schizophrenia usually develops after puberty, with most people being diagnosed with schizophrenia in their late teens to early 30s. The typical age of onset and diagnosis also varies between males and females. Males are more likely to be diagnosed in their late teens to early 20s, while females are more likely to be diagnosed in their late 20s to early 30s.