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Help With Schizophrenia

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

  • Feb 14, 2018
Childhood Trauma and Resilience: Participating in Sports Can Help

People who have experienced trauma or abuse in childhood are at much higher risk of mental health problems throughout their lives. However, there are actions that individuals and communities can take to build resilience and help ward off mental health problems later.

  • Feb 12, 2018
Many with PTSD Not Getting Treatment

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating condition that affects an estimated one in 11 people at some time in their lives. Some research has found that people with PTSD access treatment even less than those with other mental health conditions, such as depression. New research looks at some of the factors related to people seeking and utilizing treatment with the hope of increasing the number of people receiving treatment

  • Feb 08, 2018
Disparities in Health Care: Race, Ethnicity and Gender

It is well-established that adults with mental health disorders spend more on medical care than adults without mental illness, and members of racial and ethnic minority groups have in the past often had less access to care. Researchers led by Judith Weissman, Ph.D., J.D. with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai, New York, wanted to evaluate the impact the Affordable Care Act has had on ethnic, racial and gender disparities in access to health care among adults with mental health conditions.

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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

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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

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Myles’ Story

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.

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JAN 17, 2018

University of Arizona doctor works to develop biological test for schizophrenia

AZCentral.com

Amelia Gallitano, a physician-scientist at the school, received a $175,000 grant from the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation to develop an easily administered test to see if a person has schizophrenia. No biological test is currently available to diagnose schizophrenia.

JAN 9, 2018

Her 'perfect child' was now schizophrenic and homeless. Could she find him on one of the year’s coldest days?

Washington Post

The questions were always with her, but they haunted her on days like today, when McBride, a career State Department employee, was home from work with nothing to do while she recovered from a recent surgery but dwell on what had happened to Michael, a 23-year-old with paranoid schizophrenia experiencing his first winter of homelessness. She thought about how quickly the illness had seized him. And how, in just three years, he had gone from a sweet and loving college student to delusional, homeless and alone.

JAN 3, 2018

Rare genetic variation may be linked to schizophrenia

The Hub at Johns Hopkins

Researchers at Johns Hopkins report that they have identified rare genetic variations in a protein called Thorase that may be linked to some behavioral disorders, perhaps including schizophrenia. Thorase is responsible for breaking down receptors at the connections between neurons in the brain.

 

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Additional Resources and Organizations

Physician Reviewed

William Carpenter Jr., M.D.
Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.
July 2015