9 Ways Schizophrenia Changes Your Lifeby Eileen Bailey Health Writer
Finding Time for Treatment
According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, treatment for schizophrenia often includes a combination of:
- Psychological treatment, including cognitive behavioral therapy, supportive psychotherapy, cognitive enhancement therapy
- Psychosocial treatments
- Community support
Doctor visits, counseling, and support groups all take time and one of the changes in your life may be adjusting your schedule to your treatment needs.
Creating a Support System
When you have schizophrenia, it is important to develop a support system to help you manage the symptoms. Some of the people in your support system may include your family and your friends, but you may also need to open up to people in a support group or to a peer mentor. Many people with schizophrenia find it difficult to maintain friendships, according to a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology.
Managing Side Effects of Medications
Antipsychotic medications can have mild to very unpleasant side-effects, according to a report published in World Psychiatry. These include tiredness, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction, movement problems, and weight gain. For many people, the benefits of the medication outweigh the discomfort. However, it is important to be open and honest with your medical team about the side-effects to determine if the medication should be changed or adjusted.
Eating Healthy and Exercising
One common side effect of medication for schizophrenia is weight gain, according to a report published in World Psychiatry. It is important to eat a healthy diet and add regular exercise to your daily routine to better manage your weight.
Getting Enough Sleep
Schizophrenia has been linked to sleep disturbances, according to a study published in 2017. Not getting enough sleep can trigger a psychotic episode and changes in sleep patterns, such as bouts of insomnia, can signal that an episode may be forthcoming. It’s important to try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day and note any changes. Seek medical attention before you end up in a crisis situation.
Staying Vigilant in Managing Symptoms
People with schizophrenia are always at risk of having a psychotic episode. Symptoms can be managed when treated continuously, according to the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation. It is important to monitor symptoms of the illness and seek help if delusions and hallucinations return.
Exercising Caution With Drugs and Alcohol
Approximately 25 percent of people with schizophrenia also abuse drugs or alcohol, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Substance abuse makes treatments less effective and may worsen symptoms. People with schizophrenia who also have substance abuse issues may be less likely to follow their treatment plan.
Finding the Right Medication
There are many options for treating schizophrenia, however, everyone reacts to medications differently and it may take a period of trial and error to find the right medication and the right dosage for you. This can greatly disrupt your life until you find what works for you. Researchers at the University of Michigan are working on a way to analyze a person’s DNA to determine the best medication for individuals to minimize the disruption.
Finding Your Own Journey to Recovery
Schizophrenia doesn’t affect everyone the same way and recovery may be different. Recovery doesn’t always mean that you will think the same or have the same dreams as you did before your diagnosis. Recovery is personal to each person. It can mean living independently, living a life that includes friends, families, hobbies, study, full or part-time employment. Only you can decide what the word recovery means to you.