Around 24 million people around the world have schizophrenia, which amounts to 0.32% of the global population. Though it’s more common than people believe, the media has created a skewed idea of what living with schizophrenia is really like.
You may have many questions if you’ve been recently diagnosed with this mental health condition. Is schizophrenia manageable? What does life as a schizophrenic look like? Today, we’ll answer these questions and provide additional information to help you better understand your diagnosis.
Life After Your New Diagnosis
If you’ve been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, it may help explain many parts of your life you’ve been struggling with. You may have been hearing, seeing, smelling or feeling things nobody else did. Disorganized speech or challenges communicating with others may have made it difficult to maintain social relationships. People with schizophrenia can also neglect their personal hygiene and resist instruction in their day-to-day.
Symptoms vary in type and severity, so what schizophrenia looks like for one person may be a different experience for another. Once you receive a diagnosis, you can begin learning how to live with schizophrenia and cultivate a high quality of life.
Living With Schizophrenia
Is schizophrenia manageable? The answer is a resolute yes. There are many methods proven to improve your daily life when you’re living with schizophrenia.
A combination of therapy and medications is often the most effective in treating schizophrenia. You and your doctor or psychiatrist will discuss your unique symptoms to devise an individualized treatment program that works best for you. Once you have a program in place, it’s important you stick with it and don’t change anything without consulting your doctor first.
Besides a treatment plan, your mental health professional will also provide you with valuable resources you can use whenever you need them. For example, it’s estimated that almost five percent of schizophrenics will take their own life at some point. This is most likely to happen at the onset of the illness, and is one of the reasons many choose an inpatient program directly following their diagnosis.
If you or a loved one feel like hurting yourself, it’s crucial you get immediate help. You can call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 any time, from anywhere, to be connected to a professional crisis counselor who can help.
Treatment for Schizophrenia
Life as a schizophrenic involves lifelong treatment and condition management under the care of your primary doctor or a mental health professional. Treatment can look a little different for everyone, but a combination of medications and therapy is often the most effective. Unfortunately, some people may also require hospitalization, especially directly following the initial diagnosis.
Antipsychotics are the most commonly prescribed drug for schizophrenics. There are numerous medications that can be used, and you may need to try more than one before finding the one that best manages your symptoms. Antipsychotic medication is used because it helps relieve the delusions and hallucinations many people with schizophrenia have.
Although antipsychotics are the most common prescription, they aren’t the only ones. You may also be prescribed antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications. More information on medication management is in the following section to help you better understand the options for you and your doctor.
Therapy is helpful in schizophrenics who aren’t currently in psychosis. Psychosis is a term that explains the delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thoughts or speech someone with schizophrenia may have. Individual, group, and family therapy may be used, depending on your comfort levels.
You may receive social skills training to help improve your communication capabilities and teach you more about appropriate social interactions. This can significantly improve your quality of life by allowing you to build lasting social relationships and help you better maintain a regular job. Supported employment and vocational rehabilitation are also options that might be offered as part of your treatment program.
Hospitalization isn’t required for every schizophrenia diagnosis. However, it’s usually necessary for severe cases or those struggling with thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
During hospitalization, you’ll begin your medications and undergo therapy while under the care of medical professionals. Inpatient treatment program times vary, but are usually between a few weeks and a few months. If you’re hospitalized, your stay will be determined by your doctor and yourself but can fluctuate based on how well you do once treatment has begun.
Medication Management for Schizophrenia
Medications are an essential part of schizophrenia treatment, and there are several types your doctor might prescribe. The most common medication is an antipsychotic, but antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications may also be used. In many cases, two or more medications will be prescribed together to help effectively manage schizophrenia symptoms.
These medications can take weeks to take full effect, although some improvement in symptoms can happen within a few hours. This depends on the severity of your symptoms and the type of medication prescribed. If you or a loved one are unable to or refuse to take medication orally, your doctor may choose an injectable one instead. Injectable medications are taken less often than oral ones, but are generally administered by a medical professional.
The first medication you use may not work for you, which is yet another reason why many people are hospitalized directly following their schizophrenia diagnosis. Finding one that manages your symptoms without causing any side effects may take a few tries.
Seeking Care in Crisis
Living with schizophrenia can be manageable when you utilize the proper treatment methods. But if you find yourself in crisis while beginning your treatment plan or at any point during your schizophrenia journey, it’s okay to seek higher levels of care.