Curated and updated for the community by APA
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects about one percent of the population. When schizophrenia is active, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, trouble with thinking and concentration, and lack of motivation. However, when these symptoms are treated, most people with schizophrenia will greatly improve over time.
See definition, symptoms, & treatment
Peer support refers to people with the same types of problems helping each other. The concept of peer support has been used for many years among people with addictions, for example in Alcoholic Anonymous where people with “lived experience” help others to recover. The use of peer support with people with mental illness is more recent, particularly peer support in a professional capacity as part of the mental health care team.
Since rapid changes and uncertainty can be stressful for anyone regardless of political persuasion, it’s important to remain aware of our stress levels and proactively manage them.
You may be familiar with online access to your medical records and possibly to your doctor’s notes. More than 12 million Americans now have online access to their health care provider’s clinical notes. This access is referred to as OpenNotes.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA)
My friend with schizophrenia smokes marijuana and drinks a lot, it that related to the schizophrenia?
Substance abuse is a common problem in persons with schizophrenia, including tobacco, marijuana, alcohol and other drugs. Abuse has all the usual health-related problems, but the presence of schizophrenia complicates this issue. Patients may stop their antipsychotic medications if they believe it interferes with the marijuana or alcohol effect. Disorganized thinking and behavior may be made worse. Marijuana appears to increase the risk of schizophrenia in vulnerable young people and may complicate the course of schizophrenia. Impaired cognition is common in schizophrenia and misused drugs adversely affect cognition, such as attention, memory, task orientation and the like. There are many good reasons to avoid substance misuse. More
Does everyone with schizophrenia need to take medication? Can therapy help someone with schizophrenia?
All persons with schizophrenia need drugs some of the time and most will do better with continued use of medication to help control symptoms and prevent relapse. But the drugs are not effective for all aspects of the illness. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help with certain symptoms and supportive psychotherapy can support personal strengths and improve quality of life. Vocational programs increase the chances of successful employment. Family psychoeducation can give patients and family members a better understanding of the disorder and what will be helpful. A relationship with a case worker may help with the problems of daily living.
So, yes, drug treatment is important, but many patients will not take medication continuously for long periods and many experience side effects that have to be addressed. An integrated, comprehensive approach works best. More
What are the first symptoms someone would notice if they had schizophrenia?
The earliest signs and symptoms come before a diagnosis can be certain. There is now a growing emphasis on identifying young people at high risk for a psychotic disorder and offering treatment and services in advance of a full psychotic experience. At this stage symptoms and signs include problems with personal relationships and school or work performance, experiencing odd phenomena such as hearing a voice or noise but being uncertain if it was really heard, or becoming excessively suspicious. Also, some people may develop a “loner” lifestyle, a sense that something is wrong and that one’s mind is playing tricks, and other things that mark a change in life course. These may not be early schizophrenia symptoms, but it is a good time for clinical assessment and care in hopes of preventing a progression to a full first episode of psychosis.
At first episode of schizophrenia, common symptoms include paranoia, hearing voices or seeing visions, disorganization of thoughts and behavior, anxiety, fear, depression, sleep disturbance, social withdrawal and sometimes poor emotional control seen as anger and hostility.
All the signs and symptoms can occur at a mild level in people who are not ill. A diagnosis must look at the severity of the symptoms, their impact on function and resulting distress. More
About the Expert:
William Carpenter Jr., M.D. Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology University of Maryland School of Medicine Editor-in-Chief, Schizophrenia Bulletin May 2015
Myles was a 20-year old man who was brought to the emergency room by the campus police of the college from which he had been suspended several months ago. A professor had called and reported that Myles had walked into his classroom, accused him of taking his tuition money and refused to leave. More
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FEB 22, 2017
A new study of about 5,000 children in the United Kingdom found no evidence that cat ownership during gestation or childhood was associated with psychotic experiences that can be early signs of mental illness — such as hallucinations or delusions of being spied on — when they were teenagers.
FEB 23, 2017
Preliminary findings indicated vitamin B supplementation improved psychiatric symptoms among individuals with schizophrenia. “Looking at all of the data from clinical trials of vitamin and mineral supplements for schizophrenia to date, we can see that B vitamins effectively improves outcomes for patients.”
Children born to mothers who gained too little weight during pregnancy were at increased risk for schizophrenia and other non-affective psychoses later in life, according to new epidemiological research from Karolinska Institute. The findings, which are published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, confirm the results of several important historical studies that showed a link between exposure to famine while in the womb and increased risk of schizophrenia later in life.
Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America
Mental Health America
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Institute on Mental Health
Physician Review By:
William Carpenter Jr., M.D.
Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.