1 AnswerCancers, especially breast cancer and lung cancer, are the second most common cause of death in people with schizophrenia, whose risk for cancer death is 50% higher than that of the general population. Possible explanations for these findings include a delay in diagnosis due to patients paying less attention to symptoms; the difficulty for schizophrenic patients to benefit from optimum treatment; and less compliance with treatment.
1 AnswerIf you have schizophrenia, there are many things that you can do to reduce any stigmatizing feelings you have about your own illness, or about your ability or value as a person. You can:
- Do things you enjoy. This can boost your self esteem.
- Keep a journal and write down things that you like about yourself or are proud of. You can always find something.
- Read about schizophrenia and mental illness. If you can find some, read stories about other people who have schizophrenia. You will see that they can achieve great things, and that they have dreams and challenges, just like everyone else.
- Make sure that you take notice of any symptoms that you are experiencing. Being responsible for monitoring your own mental health will help you recover. But don't focus on your symptoms all the time. And remember that everyone has bad days, and everyone loses things or forgets appointments sometimes! Even your Doctor!
1 AnswerHaving a family member or friend diagnosed with schizophrenia can be challenging. You may feel confused if the person is displaying behaviors that seem very strange to you, or if you are unsure how to react to threats and hostility from someone whom you thought you knew well. You may experience any number of negative feelings such as guilt, loss, helplessness, fear, vulnerability, defeat, anxiety, resentment, and anger are all commonly reported by caregivers of people with severe mental illness.
1 AnswerPeople with schizophrenia have worse physical health than the general population. There are many possible reasons for this. The behavior and health choices of people with schizophrenia play a part. It has also been suggested that people with schizophrenia face discrimination and access problems in obtaining physical health care. Even if access to physical health care is available, some people with mental illness find it difficult to communicate health concerns to their doctors. Another significant factor is the side-effects of the medication that is often prescribed to people with schizophrenia.
1 AnswerCoping with schizophrenia in daily life can require patience, and may require you to make some changes to your lifestyle. However, if you have schizophrenia, there are things you can do that might make coping with everyday life easier. Here are some suggestions from RETHINK (a mental health organization in the United Kingdom) for how you can help yourself to stay well after you have found the best treatment for yourself:
- Think about what sort of support you need from family, friends or perhaps an employer. It is important that you discuss this with others so that they do not try to overprotect you or become too distant. Your care plan should also be reviewed regularly.
- Try to find the right balance between doing too little so that your life becomes a vacuum or doing too much which could put you under too much stress and make you vulnerable to your symptoms.
- Learn to recognise situations that are difficult for you and try to find ways of coping with them, perhaps with the help of others.
- Plan in advance what you want to happen if you experience an acute episode of illness in the future. Make sure that the people who need to know are aware of your wishes. You could make a statement in advance which could be held in your medical records and also given to a relative or friend you trust.
1 AnswerFamily members and friends can be integral to helping people with schizophrenia toward recovery. Because family members can provide doctors with a different perspective from the patient, they can often be helpful in developing treatment strategies. More importantly, family members can provide people with schizophrenia with a strong support system by listening, empathizing, and recognizing schizophrenia as a real illness. Family support is crucial toward making a quicker recovery. If you have a relative, friend or peer who is acting "strangely," be there for him/her. Go with him/her to the medical centre, talk to counsellors, and assure the individual that he/she is not alone. Be a good friend. Schizophrenia can happen to any of us.
1 AnswerCommunity-based programs, like peer support groups, may help those with schizophrenia. Peer support groups provide those with schizophrenia the chance to see that they are not alone. They also promote social interaction, which lessens the isolation that those with the disorder may feel. Support groups and other educational or assistance programs may be available through community-based mental health agencies, or mental health associations. The local telephone book, newspaper(s), or the internet may also have information about programs available in the community.
1 AnswerBelow is a list of warning signs that suggest the onset (or return) of schizophrenia. It was developed by families who have a member with schizophrenia. Some of the behavior is within the range of normal responses to situations. However, families felt that even with the mildest of symptoms there was a vague, yet distinct, awareness that the behavior was "unusual".
The unusual behaviors and symptoms described below will not be unusual to families whose relative has already experienced acute episodes of schizophrenia. For them, these symptoms may indicate the return of a more acute phase of the illness.
Here are examples of unusual behavior and symptoms that may indicate relapse or onset:
- Dropping out of activities (skipping classes)
- Decline in academic or athletic performance
- Social withdrawal, isolation
- Deterioration of social relationships
- Excessive fatigue and sleepiness or inability to sleep
- Staring, vagueness
- Apparent indifference, even in highly important situations
- Inability to express emotion
- Irrational statements
- Conversation that seems deep but is not logical or coherent
- Peculiar use of words or language structure
- Excessive writing without apparent meaning
- Inability to concentrate or cope with minor problems
- Bizarre behavior
- Inappropriate laughter
- Deterioration of personal hygiene; eccentric dress
- Frequent moves, trips or long walks leading nowhere
- Undue preoccupation with spiritual or religious matters
- Strange posturing
- Unusual sensitivity to stimuli (noise, light)
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Many families noticed that there was no logical flow of ideas during conversation. Others noticed that their relative began speaking out loud to no one, and did not seem to hear other people speaking to them. One young man began researching all religions and cults. Another young man began turning off all radios because he believed that he was receiving messages from them. In some families, their relative destroyed bank books, birth certificates and photographs.Signs of paranoia became apparent in many cases. A relative would begin talking about plots against him or her and had "evidence" that he or she was poisoned. One man said that his wife assumed that whenever she saw people talking, they were talking about her.
Siblings often felt that their brother or sister was merely lazy and shirking responsibility; children were embarrassed and confused by their parent acting so differently.
1 AnswerWe do not fully understand schizophrenia, and still have much to learn about this disorder. However, researchers continue to find new information and challenge each other, constantly increasing our understanding and leading to improved treatments and services. Highlighted here are just a few examples of exciting recent research. There is considerable hope that future research in this field will lead to breakthroughs in better understanding the causes of schizophrenia and how to lessen its impact on the lives of those it affects:
- Advances in technology are improving the ability of clinicians to assess neuropsychiatric functioning and the genetic elements of schizophrenia.
- Schizophrenia normally begins in adolescence or early adulthood. In the past some researchers have suggested that if schizophrenia-type symptoms are first seen in middle or old age, they must be due to organic factors. New research is now suggesting that diagnoses of both late-onset schizophrenia (starting after 40 years) and of very-late-onset schizophrenia-like psychosis (after 60 years) are clinically valid and useful.
- More attention is being directed to studying the early detection and prevention of schizophrenia. Directions for further research are being put forward.
- The influence of environmental factors on the development of schizophrenia is also receiving more attention, largely because of studies that have suggested that there may be higher rates of schizophrenia in urban areas.
- The issue of cannabis use as a risk factor for developing schizophrenia is being studied. Future research could lead to an improved understanding of the relationship between cannabis use and schizophrenia and to better treatment for people with co-morbid schizophrenia and substance use disorders.
- A review has considered the latest literature on the role of the cerebellum in schizophrenia.
- Research is continuing to try to identify if there are particular genes that make people more susceptible to developing schizophrenia. There is particularly strong evidence being found for three regions, called 6p24-22, 1q21-22 and 13q32-34.
- The convergence of research in diverse fields such as molecular genetics, molecular neuropathology, neurophysiology, invivo brain imaging, and psychopharmacology indicates that we may soon fully understand the molecular basis of schizophrenia.
1 AnswerWhere they exist, schizophrenia treatment guidelines differ considerably, particularly in relation to what psychosocial treatment (if any) is recommended. Approaches to psychiatric medication differ too. For example, the Russian classification and treatment of schizophrenia allows for non-psychotic forms of the illness, and for non-psychotic patients to be treated with neuroleptic drugs. Which drugs are used to treat schizophrenia varies internationally, partly because first-generation antipsychotic medication is cheaper than second-generation or atypical antipsychotic medication.
Not only does treatment vary considerably; variation is also seen in where treatment takes place. In some countries people with schizophrenia are treated almost entirely in psychiatric institutions. In China patients generally stay in long-term hospitals, and community-based services have only recently become available. In other countries psychiatric care has been deinstitutionalized and mental health is being, or has been, integrated into primary health care as far as possible. In many other countries, for example in India, access to both inpatient and outpatient services can be difficult, and the bulk of care is provided by informal carers such as family members.