Is It Possible To Recover From Schizophrenia
Many people who live with schizophrenia have recovery journeys that lead them to live meaningful lives.
Recovery can be thought of in terms of:
- clinical recovery, and
- personal recovery.
What is clinical recovery?
Your doctor might have talked to you about recovery. Some doctors and health professionals think of recovery as:
- no longer having mental illness symptoms, or
- where your symptoms are controlled by treatment to such a degree that they are not significantly a problem.
Sometimes this is called clinical recovery.
Everyones experience of clinical recovery is different.
- Some people completely recover from schizophrenia and go on to be symptom free.
- Some who live with schizophrenia can improve a great deal with ongoing treatment.
- Some improve with treatment but need ongoing support from mental health and social services.
What is personal recovery?
Dealing with symptoms is important to a lot of people. But some people think that recovery is wider than this. We call this personal recovery.
Personal recovery means that you can live a meaningful life.
What you think of as being a meaningful life might be different to how other people see it. You can think about what you would like to do to live a meaningful life and work towards that goal.
Below are some ways you can think of recovery.
What can help me recover?
You may want to think about the following questions.
The following things can be important in recovery.
Lack Of Emotional Expressions
A characteristic symptom of schizophrenia is a lack of emotional expression. People with this condition may show little or no reactions to good or bad news.
They also begin to show fewer facial expressions and gestures when they talk. Their voice may become flat when they speak.
Interestingly, suggests that while they appear to have a wooden expression, what they express outward may not be the same as what they feel inside.
Sometimes, they can have unexplained and seemingly inappropriate reactions to things, like overwhelming anger or inappropriate laughter.
Begin Treatment Right Away
Doctors diagnose schizophrenia when someone has psychotic episodes that canât be explained by drug abuse or other medical conditions.
Starting an antipsychotic medication immediately offers the best hope of getting symptoms under control.
“The longer a person goes without treatment, the greater the risk of damage to the brain and a poor outcome,â says Steven Jewell, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University.
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What Risks And Complications Can Schizophrenia Cause
Research suggests that people with serious mental illness , such as schizophrenia, have a shorter life expectancy. People with mental illness may die 15 to 20 years earlier than the general population. This may because people who live with SMI are at higher risk of having a range of health issues. Such as being overweight, having heart disease, smoking and diabetes.
Because of these issues, NICE recommends that when you start taking antipsychotic medication, your doctor should do a full range of physical health checks. This should include weight, blood pressure and other blood tests. These checks should be repeated regularly.
Mental health professionals are responsible for doing these checks for the first year of treatment. Responsibility may then pass to your GP. Your doctor or mental health team should offer you a programme which combines healthy eating and physical health checks. You should be supported by a healthcare professional to help stop smoking.
The risk of suicide is increased for people with schizophrenia. Research indicates that around 513% of people who live with with schizophrenia die by suicide.
Research has found that the increased risk is not usually because of positive symptoms. The risk of suicide is associated more to affective symptoms, such as low mood.
Key risk factors for suicide include:
- previous suicide attempts,
What Should I Know About Participating In Clinical Research
Clinical trials are research studies that look at new ways to prevent, detect, or treat diseases and conditions. Although individuals may benefit from being part of a clinical trial, participants should be aware that the primary purpose of a clinical trial is to gain new scientific knowledge so that others may be better helped in the future.
Talk to your health care provider about clinical trials, their benefits and risks, and whether one is right for you. For more information, visit NIMH’s clinical trials webpage.
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Symptoms Of Women With Schizophrenia
The criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia is the same for women as it is for men, but the features of schizophrenia differ between the genders. For example, women may exhibit depression or anxiety which may put them at a higher risk for suicide.2
Women with schizophrenia are lesslikely to have symptoms such as:
- Flat affect
- Blunted emotional responses
- Speech reduction
- Social withdrawal
Women with schizophrenia may be more physically active and more hostile than men with the illness. They may also experience more auditory hallucinations as well as paranoid and persecutory delusions. Paranoid delusions consist of thoughts like, my spouse is cheating on me, when he isnt. Persecutory delusions consist of thoughts like, Im being mistreated, when there is no actual mistreatment. Not every woman with schizophrenia will exhibit these features, but these trends have been noted in some large-scale studies.3
Women Tend To Develop Symptoms Of Schizophrenia Later Than Men And Often Exhibit Different Symptoms
There is no disparity in the occurrence and prevalence of schizophrenia between men and women, though schizophrenia is more closely associated with younger men. This may be due to the fact that women are more likely to experience the onset of schizophrenia later than men. Women tend to develop symptoms in their late 20s whereas the onset in men is typically in their early 20s.1 Also, because women with schizophrenia tend to be more socially active, their schizophrenia may be less detectable.
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The Most Common Early Warning Signs Include:
While these warning signs can result from a number of problemsnot just schizophreniathey are cause for concern. When out-of-the-ordinary behavior is causing problems in your life or the life of a loved one, seek medical advice. If schizophrenia or another mental problem is the cause, getting treatment early will help.
Changes In Behaviour And Thoughts
A person’s behaviour may become more disorganised and unpredictable.
Some people describe their thoughts as being controlled by someone else, that their thoughts are not their own, or that thoughts have been planted in their mind by someone else.
Another feeling is that thoughts are disappearing, as though someone is removing them from their mind.
Some people feel their body is being taken over and someone else is directing their movements and actions.
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The Signs Of Schizophrenia In Your Early 20s
4 min Read Time
The good news is that with comprehensive treatment and support, most patients can manage their condition effectively.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by fragmented thoughts and a distorted perception of reality. There is currently no cure. While the origins of the disease are still unclear, researchers believe that it’s likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
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.
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Final Thoughts: Getting Past The Stigma
Stories abound of individuals who have schizophrenia attempting to hide their condition from others. Despite research and mental health outreach efforts, the ignorance surrounding mental health issues is prevalent. This has led to a shameful social stigma attached to conditions like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and others.
As global citizens, we must do better. When people who are suffering feel support and encouragement, they are far more likely to seek potentially life-changing treatment.
If you or someone you love is suffering from a serious mental health disorder, please reach out for support. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Hotline can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.
Get The Word Of Drug Information
Getting help as soon as possible increases your chances of a successful recovery. If you are concerned about any changes in behavior, you should speak to your doctor or your loved one’s healthcare provider. The first warning signs mentioned above do not necessarily indicate schizophrenia and may be related to something else, but may still require medical attention.
This is especially true for children. Since schizophrenia is very rare in this age group, it is likely that even if you experience the first warning signs above, your child does not have the disorder.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, know that there are effective treatments that can help you manage your symptoms.
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When To Contact A Healthcare Provider
Because schizophrenia usually develops gradually, it can be difficult to determine exactly when behavior changes begin or to know if they are cause for concern. Acknowledging that you are experiencing disruptive behavior may be a sign that you should seek professional advice.
Symptoms may increase in anticipation of acute psychosis in schizophrenia. Warning signs include:
- Alarming drop in estimates or labor productivity
- New difficulty thinking clearly or concentrating
- Suspicion or anxiety towards others.
- Withdrawal from communication, spending much more time alone than usual
- Unusual, overly intense new ideas, strange feelings, or no feelings
- It’s hard to tell reality from fantasy
- Confusing speech or communication problems
While these changes may not matter on their own, if you or your loved one are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should see a mental health professional. It can be difficult for people with schizophrenia to get help, especially if they experience symptoms such as paranoia .
If you or someone you love thinks or talks about harming yourself, seek immediate help from someone who can help. You can call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 800-237-8255.
If you need immediate emergency care, call 911 or go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
What To Do If You See Early Signs Of Schizophrenia In Someone
If you see someone else exhibiting early signs of schizophrenia, you may want to recommend that they get in for proper psychological evaluation. If they do have schizophrenia or some other condition, most professionals will be able to tell what is going on.
Treatment for the condition as soon as possible is associated with better functioning in society and a more favorable prognosis. If the individual has a family history of schizophrenia and they are showing the early warning signs and symptoms, it is likely that they are developing the same condition as there is a genetic link.
Most people with the early warning signs of schizophrenia are not aware of their condition. It typically takes outside intervention for someone to realize that what they are experiencing is in fact a mental illness. This is because all the symptoms that they are experiencing seem so real to them. Although the onset of these symptoms may be sudden or abrupt, the majority of people show a slow, gradual onset of these early signs.
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How Is Schizophrenia Treated
There are different types of treatment available. Medical professionals should work with you to find the right treatment for you. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that you should be offered a combination of medication and talking therapies.
People who live with schizophrenia can respond to treatment differently.
For many treatment helps to reduce symptoms to help make daily life easier. You may find that you need to continue with treatment to keep well. For every 5 people with schizophrenia:
- 1 will get better within 5 years of their first obvious symptoms.
- 3 will get better but will have times when they get worse again.
- 1 will have troublesome symptoms for long periods of time.
What medication should I be offered?
Your doctor may offer you medication known as an antipsychotic. These reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but dont cure the illness. Your healthcare professionals should work with you to help choose a medication. If you want, your carer can also help you make the decision. Doctors should explain the benefits and side effects of each drug.
In the past, some antipsychotics had negative side effects. Some people find that the side effects of newer antipsychotic drugs are easier to manage.
Your medication should be reviewed at least once a year.
What type of psychosocial treatment will I be offered?
Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships.
How Do Doctors Diagnose The Type Of Schizophrenia
If the patient is admitted, the psychiatrist talks to them and evaluates their behavior, considers whether any symptoms were triggered by alcohol or drugs, reviews any records from prior admissions, and talks to the family.
Initially, we may only see that the patient is losing track of reality, says Dr. Bowers. We may need more time to see all the symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms include:
- Fixed, false beliefs.
- Seeing visions or shadows.
- Suspicion and distrust.
Government regulations require psychiatrists to diagnose a specific type of schizophrenia so that insurance companies get the green light to pay for care.
We hope to see enough symptoms during a three-, five- or 10-day hospital stay to clarify the type of schizophrenia, she says. But we may not see all of them, so the initial diagnosis may not be exactly right.
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Positive Symptoms Of Schizophrenia: Things That Might Start Happening
Positive symptoms are highly exaggerated ideas, perceptions, or actions that show the person canât tell whatâs real from what isnât. Here the word “positive” means the presence of symptoms. They can include:
- Hallucinations. People with schizophrenia might hear, see, smell, or feel things no one else does. The types of hallucinations in schizophrenia include:
- Auditory. The person most often hears voices in their head. They might be angry or urgent and demand that they do things. It can sound like one voice or many. They might whisper, murmur, or be angry and demanding.
- Visual. Someone might see lights, objects, people, or patterns. Often itâs loved ones or friends who are no longer alive. They may also have trouble with depth perception and distance.
- Olfactory and gustatory. This can include good and bad smells and tastes. Someone might believe theyâre being poisoned and refuse to eat.
- Tactile. This creates a feeling of things moving on your body, like hands or insects.
Schizophrenia: The 7 Keys To Self
Seek social support. Friends and family vital to helping you get the right treatment and keeping your symptoms under control. Regularly connecting with others face-to-face is also the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Stay involved with others by continuing your work or education. If thats not possible, consider volunteering, joining a schizophrenia support group, or taking a class or joining a club to spend time with people who have common interests. As well as keeping you socially connected, it can help you feel good about yourself.
Manage stress. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenic episodes by increasing the bodys production of the hormone cortisol. As well as staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels. Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer. Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if its easier, three 10-minute sessions. Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing.
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The First Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
The period when the first warning signs appear is called the prodromal stage. The onset of schizophrenia can last from months to several years, and the first signs differ depending on the age at which the disease develops.
People diagnosed with schizophrenia in childhood have more developmental problems than those diagnosed in adulthood.
Signs of very early development include:
- Delayed motor development : for example, you cannot walk until 18 months.
- Delayed speech and / or language development : For example, if you do not pronounce meaningful two- or three-word phrases until 36 months of age.
- Disorder of social development at an early age : for example, not using gestures to communicate or not being able to regulate facial expressions.
It is important to note that these problems do not necessarily indicate schizophrenia, but they may be related to something else entirely.
Treating Women With Schizophrenia
Though treatment for mental illness is not typically separated by gender, clinicians serve women best by considering their unique experience of schizophrenia as well as the unique challenges they face. Because women have later onset of the illness and are less likely to experience affective symptoms, clinicians must be careful to rule out other mental illnesses, such as schizoaffective disorder or bipolar disorder, when giving a diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Treatment for women with schizophrenia should include psychoeducation and support for the needs of mothers with children. Antipsychotic medication can affect the ability to breast feed and the amount of energy a mother has to parent her children.7 Treatment plans tailored for women should include education about physical health as well. Women with schizophrenia are less likely to care for their physical health. This leaves them at risk for untreated breast cancer, osteoporosis, and thyroid conditions. Mental health professionals should also consider creating safety plans for women with schizophrenia who are at increased risk for committing suicide.
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