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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, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking and lack of motivation. However, with treatment, most symptoms of schizophrenia will greatly improve and the likelihood of a recurrene can be diminished.

While there is no cure for schizophrenia, research is leading to innovative and safer treatments. Experts also are unraveling the causes of the disease by studying genetics, conducting behavioral research, and using advanced imaging to look at the brain’s structure and function. These approaches hold the promise of new and more effective therapies.

The complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Schizophrenia does not mean split personality or multiple-personality. Most people with schizophrenia are not any more dangerous or violent than the general population. Most people with schizophrenia live with their family, in group homes or on their own.

Read more on symptoms & treatment

  • Sep 18, 2020
Athletes and Isolation During the Continued COVID-19 Pandemic

In this time of COVID-19, no one wants sports back than the athletes themselves. In a recent study from researchers at the University of Wisconsin, 68% of the 3,243 high school student-athletes surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, an uptick of about 37% from past, pre-pandemic studies. Physical activity levels were down by about 50% and quality of life scores were lower. Simply put, athletes are feeling the cancellation of competition events and closure of training facilities.

  • Sep 16, 2020
Mental Health Resources for the Latino Community

There are more than 60 million Hispanic/Latino individuals in the U.S., making up about 18% of the population. Latinos have experienced disproportionate economic physical and mental health impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half (55%) of Latinos have suffered economic consequences and about 40% of Latinos report experiencing stress, anxiety, or great sadness due to the pandemic. Several organizations have developed resources to help address mental health needs among Latinos with targeted mental health information and services.

  • Sep 03, 2020
“Weight of Gold” – Raising Awareness of Mental Health in Elite Athletes

“Weight of Gold,” a new documentary narrated by Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, addresses mental health concerns of Olympic athletes. The documentary, which aired on HBO Max in early August, discusses some of the thoughts going through the minds of athletes from a young age, thoughts about what it takes to reach the top of their sport, the pressure and exhilaration of reaching the Olympics, and what happens afterward.

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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.

Read More 

Editor's Choice

JULY 6, 2020

Barriers to Prescribing LAIs for Schizophrenia
MD Magazine

In a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial participants are randomly assigned to either oral or long-acting injectable [LAI] medicine and have to sign consent forms. These studies are inconsistent. The other 2 types of trials can be very informative. Looking at those studies and the meta-analyses, we see a very significant advantage for the long-acting injectable drug.MAR 31, 2020

JUNE 23, 2020

Suicide Rate 170 Times Higher for People With Schizophrenia
US NEws and World Report

People with schizophrenia have a suicide rate 170 times higher than the general population, Canadian researchers report. The researchers looked at 20 years of population data, including information on 75,000 patients with schizophrenia. Each was followed for about 10 years, on average. Risk of suicide was heightened the first five years after the mental illness was diagnosed, the researchers said.

JUNE 23, 2020

Patients with schizophrenia make less risky decisions and have less tolerance for economic injustices
Medical Xpress

A new study evaluates the risk-based decisions and the perception of economic injustice in people who consume cocaine and who have associated mental pathologies, schizophrenia or antisocial personality disorder. The results, which have been published today in Scientific Reports, reveal that people with schizophrenia take less-risky decisions and have less tolerance for economic injustices in comparison to healthy people controls,

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Additional Resources and Organizations

Physician Reviewed

Felix Torres, M.D., MBA, DFAPA
August 2020