Causes & Risk Factors
It is not known for certain what causes schizophrenia, but like most other mental health problems, researchers believe that a combination of biological and environmental factors contribute to its development. Research has shown that:
- The risk is higher when a close family member has the illness.
- Schizophrenia may be influenced by brain development factors before and around the time of birth, and during childhood and adolescence.
- People who have experienced social hardship or trauma, particularly during childhood, have a higher risk.
- Cannabis use increases the risk of developing schizophrenia in youth and of triggering an earlier onset of the illness in people who are genetically vulnerable.
- Being born or spending ones childhood in an urban environment, rather than a rural one, increases the risk.
- Particular immigrant and refugee groups in Ontario may have a higher risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
Exactly how these risk factors interact to cause schizophrenia is not yet fully understood.
What Can Family Friends And Partners Do To Help
Friends, relatives and partners have a vital role in helping people with schizophrenia recover and make a relapse less likely.
It is very important not to blame the person with schizophrenia or tell them to “pull themselves together”, or to blame other people. It is important to stay positive and supportive when dealing with a friend or loved one’s mental illness.
As well as supporting the person with schizophrenia, you may want to get support to cope with your own feelings. Several voluntary organisations provide help and support for carers.
Friends and family should try to understand what schizophrenia is, how it affects people, and how they can help. You can provide emotional and practical support, and encourage people to seek appropriate support and treatment.
As part of someone’s treatment, you may be offered family therapy. This can provide information and support for the person with schizophrenia and their family.
Friends and family can play a major role by monitoring the person’s mental state, watching out for any signs of relapse, and encouraging them to take their medication and attend medical appointments.
If you are the nearest relative of a person who has schizophrenia, you have certain rights that can be used to protect the patient’s interests. These include requesting that the local social services authority ask an approved mental health professional to consider whether the person with schizophrenia should be detained in hospital.
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How Available Are Assertive Community Treatment Programs
Even though ACT has proven successful, few people can access it right now. Only a handful of U.S. states have statewide versions of ACT 19 states have at least one pilot program.
American Psychiatric Association: âWhat is Assertive Community Treatment for People with Severe Mental Illness?â âWhat are the Key Elements of Assertive Community Treatment That Our Organization Should Be Sure to Include When Implementing These Programs?â
National Institute of Mental Health: âSchizophrenia.â
Healthcare: âAcceptance and Commitment Therapy for Inpatients with Psychosis : Protocol for Treatment Development and Pilot Testing.â
National Alliance on Mental Illness – Minnesota: âAssertive Community Treatment .â
SAMHSAâs Gains Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation: âForensic Assertive Community Treatment: Updating the Evidence.â
McDonagh MS, Dana T, Selph S, et al. Treatments for Schizophrenia in Adults: A Systematic Review Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2017 Oct.
Neuroscience Research Australia : âFunctional Outcomes.â
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Types Of Psychosocial Therapy
If a person with schizophrenia sees improvement during psychotherapy sessions, itâs likely theyâll need more help learning how to become part of a community. Thatâs where psychosocial therapy comes in.
Social skills training. This type of instruction focuses on improving communication and social interactions.
Rehabilitation. Schizophrenia usually develops during the years we are building our careers. So rehabilitation may include job counseling, problem-solving support, and education in money management.
Family education. Your knowledge of psychosis and schizophrenia can help a friend or family member who has it. Research shows that people with schizophrenia who have a strong support system do better than those without the encouragement of friends and family.
Self-help groups. You should encourage your loved one to participate in community care and outreach programs to continue working on their social skills. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an outreach organization that offers a free peer-to-peer program, for instance. It includes 10 sessions for adults with mental illness who want to learn more about their condition from people who have experienced it themselves or been through it with a loved one.
Assertive community treatment . This offers highly personalized services to help people with schizophrenia meet lifeâs daily challenges, like taking medications. ACT professionals also help them handle problems proactively and work to prevent crises.
Schizophrenia In Therapy: Case Example
Therapy for negative symptoms of schizophrenia: Sheila, 27, has noticed an increased wish to self-isolate. Being around family members and coworkers has been causing her to experience severe stress reactions, so she tries to be home by herself as often as she can. However, when she is home, she begins to have frightening visual hallucinations that make it look like her house is crumbling around her. After some time, a family member suspects Sheila may need help and asks her if they can help. The family member helps Sheila set up an appointment with a therapist, who diagnoses Sheila with schizophrenia. They refer her to a psychiatrist for medication to control the hallucinations, but Sheila continues to see her therapist while she takes her medication. Working with a therapist helps Sheila address some of the negative symptoms of her schizophrenia, including social withdrawal and a loss of pleasure in daily life.
- Client referrals
Antipsychotic Drugs And Possible Side Effects
Older and newer antipsychotic drugs can cause side effects, including the following:
- Uncontrollable movements, such as tics, tremors, or muscle spasms
- Weight gain and other metabolic effects like development of diabetes and high cholesterol
Different antipsychotics have different possible side effects it is important to speak with your doctor about the potential side effects from your particular medication.
Antipsychotics can also cause interactions with certain medications and supplements.
Discuss all other medications or supplements that you take with your doctor before starting on an antipsychotic.
This includes over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and illegal and recreational drugs, including , which has been shown to worsen psychotic symptoms in those with and susceptible to schizophrenia.
How Common Is This Condition
Here are some statistics about how common schizophrenia is worldwide:
- New cases: There are about 2.77 million new schizophrenia diagnoses every year worldwide.
- Average number of worldwide cases: There are about 22.1 million cases globally at any time .
- Odds of developing it at some point in your lifetime: About 0.85% of the global population will experience schizophrenia at some point in their life.
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Tip : Get Involved In Treatment And Self
The earlier you catch schizophrenia and begin treatment with an experienced mental health professional, the better your chances of getting and staying well. So, if you suspect you or a loved one is exhibiting schizophrenia symptoms, seek help right away.
Successful schizophrenia treatment depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. Its important to also educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your doctors and therapists, build a strong support system, take self-help measures, and stick to your treatment plan. Pursuing self-help strategies such as changing your diet, relieving stress, and seeking social support may not seem like effective tools to manage such a challenging disorder as schizophrenia, but they can have a profound effect on the frequency and severity of symptoms, improve the way you feel, and increase your self-esteem. And the more you help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless youll feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to reduce your medication.
While schizophrenia treatment should be individualized to your specific needs, you should always have a voice in the treatment process and your needs and concerns should be respected. Treatment works best when you, your family, and your medical team all work together.
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Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
Gradual loss of motivation and interest in things around you – you may find it more difficult to motivate yourself to maintain your normal routines, or to progress in your life goals and career opportunities as you might have done previously. This loss of motivation may also affect your personal relationships. Some people may feel uncomfortable around others, possibly leading to increased self-isolation from people around you and your social support network. This is why it is so important to get treatment for schizophrenia at an early stage and have family and social support.
The cause of schizophrenia is currently unknown, although it is believed that a combination of several different psychological, societal and biological factors can increase the chances of developing the illness.
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Treatment After Remission Of Symptoms In Prodromal And First
Continuation and Maintenance Treatment
As the symptomatic response to treatment of young early stage patients is generally very good, clinicians should expect and aim for achieving maximal remission of symptoms, recognizing that psychosis may resolve first and then negative and cognitive symptoms. Residual symptoms should be targeted with adjunctive therapies as needed. After achieving optimal treatment response, the next goal of treatment is to maximize the functional recovery of patients. To an extent, this is dependent on the resolution of symptoms but may not necessarily occur fully concurrently with symptom remission. Maximization of functional recovery involves the use of adjunctive pharmacologic treatments for any residual symptoms but then various nonpharmacologic treatments to enhance functional recovery. These may include psychoeducation about the nature of the illness, supportive psychotherapy, supported employment, social and vocational rehabilitation, and case management. We think of many of these psychosocial interventions as being associated with the care of chronic patients however, they can and should also be adapted to young early-stage patients. It is also important to keep in mind that it is necessary to be patient and not rush patients prematurely into the activities with which they may have been previously engaged.
What Can I Expect If I Have This Condition
Schizophrenia is a condition that can cause severe disruptions in a persons life because it affects their connection to reality. That means a person with schizophrenia has trouble knowing whats real and what isnt. That can be a scary and very disorienting feeling.
When a person experiences paranoia that feeds into delusions and hallucinations, its common for them to feel afraid and unable to trust others. A person with schizophrenia may see others trying to help them and mistake their efforts as attempts to cause harm.
With treatment, schizophrenia is often manageable. Without treatment, or if there are long delays or gaps in treatment, people with schizophrenia are more likely to struggle with the effects of this condition.
This can have severe or even dangerous impacts on a persons life, increasing the risk of problems with maintaining relationships and holding a job. That can lead to problems like housing insecurity or social isolation. People with schizophrenia also have a higher risk of dying by suicide, which means treatment can be life-saving, not just helpful.
How long does schizophrenia last?
Schizophrenia is a lifelong, incurable condition. Some people may have only one episode of schizophrenia in their lifetime. However, healthcare providers consider these cases in remission instead of cured or resolved because the symptoms can return unpredictably.
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How Is It Treated And Is There A Cure
Schizophrenia is almost always treatable, but it isnt curable. Some people can recover from schizophrenia entirely and never have it return. However, experts consider people in that situation in remission because theres no way to predict if it will or wont return.
Treating schizophrenia generally involves multiple methods applied in sequence or at the same time. Medication, therapy and self-management techniques are common, and all three can help treat this condition when applied consistently and effectively. Diagnosing and treating this condition sooner rather than later also increases the likelihood of a good outcome.
How Do I Take Care Of Myself
Taking care of yourself and managing schizophrenia is possible, especially when people with this condition build a strong, trusting relationship with a healthcare provider and their loved ones. Some of the most important things you can do to take care of yourself include:
- Take your medication as prescribed .
- See your provider as recommended .
- Dont ignore or avoid your symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol and recreational drug use .
- Consider seeking support.
- Build relationships with people you trust especially loved ones and your healthcare provider and dont isolate yourself from them.
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Medications To Treat Schizophrenia
Antipsychotic medications are the most effective treatment for schizophrenia. Medications such as Risperdal and Zyprexa have been shown to reduce both the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia by up to 40%. In addition, these medications have mild side effects, which can make them more helpful in reaching ones schizophrenia treatment goals.
Not everyone responds to medications the same way, and some people need to try several medications before finding the right one for them. But ultimately, the best treatments for schizophrenia typically include these medications. During treatment, a psychiatrist meets regularly with their patients to:
- See how medications are working
- Discuss any side effects
- Try different medicines that could be more helpful
In this way, each patients medications are individualized, and specific side effects are addressed.
When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
You should see your healthcare provider as recommended, or if you notice a change in your symptoms or the effectiveness of your medication.
When should I go to ER?
You should go to the ER or call 911 if you have thoughts about harming yourself, including thoughts of suicide or about harming others. If you have thoughts like this, you can call any of the following:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline . To call this line, dial 1-800-273-TALK .
- Local crisis lines. Mental health organizations and centers in your area may offer resources and help through crisis lines.
- 911 : You should call 911 if you feel like youre in immediate danger of harming yourself. Operators and dispatchers for 911 lines can often help people in immediate danger because of a severe mental crisis and send first responders to assist.
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Inpatient Treatment For Schizophrenia
In severe episodes of schizophrenia, hospitalization may occur, and it may be voluntary or involuntary based on the situation. The goal of hospitalization is to help an individual control their symptoms so they can regain the ability to function in day-to-day life.
During hospitalization, doctors will be able to observe the person and run tests to better understand their condition. If the person is visiting the hospital for schizophrenia for the first time, doctors may prescribe medication or other treatment to help manage the symptoms.
Sometimes, people with schizophrenia donât recognize that they need help and may refuse or forget to take their medication. If symptoms return for this reason or another, another hospital visit could be necessary.
There are cases when a person must be hospitalized involuntarilyâthis occurs when the person with schizophrenia is a danger to themselves or others. While a very small fraction of those with schizophrenia are violent towards others, their risk for suicide is high. In many cases, state laws determine in which specific cases a person must be hospitalized.
The Best Treatment For Schizophrenia At Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital
When you or a loved one are ready to start receiving the latest treatment for schizophrenia, well be ready to help. Reach out to our admissions professionals at or ask your questions online. The best treatments for schizophrenia vary by the individual, but we are ready to meet you where you are to progress your recovery.
Contact our Admissions staff at 300-8470 to discuss our treatment programs or reach out online.
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What Causes Schizophrenia And Its Spectrum Of Conditions
Schizophrenia and the related spectrum of conditions dont have a single confirmed cause. Several factors and circumstances increase a persons risk of developing it, but none of them is a guarantee that youll eventually have it.
Experts suspect schizophrenia happens for different reasons. The three main reasons include:
- Imbalances in chemical signals your brain uses for cell-to-cell communication.
- Brain development problems before birth.
- Loss of connections between different areas of your brain.
While there arent any confirmed causes of schizophrenia, there are several factors and circumstances that researchers have connected to the condition.
Employment And Financial Support
Avoid too much stress, including work-related stress. If you are employed, you may be able to work shorter hours or in a more flexible way.
Under the Equality Act 2010, all employers must make reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities, including people diagnosed with schizophrenia or other mental illnesses.
Several organisations provide support, training and advice for people with schizophrenia who wish to continue working.
Your community mental health team is a good first point of contact to find out what services and support are available for you.
Mental health charities such as Mind or Rethink Mental Illness are also an excellent source of information on training and employment.
If you are unable to work as a result of your mental illness, you are entitled to financial support, such as Incapacity Benefit.
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There are also other places that offer support to people with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.
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