I’ve just been given a Schizophrenia diagnosis – what now?

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First of all it helps to have an understanding of what it means to have schizophrenia. Schizophrenia currently affects around one in a hundred people so you are not alone; however, not all people with schizophrenia have the same symptoms to the same degree.

Schizophrenia has often been associated with split personality, violence and a lot of stigma, particularly in the popular press and other media. This is highly misleading and untrue and unfortunately as a result many people are completely ignorant of the facts. Learn as much as you can about the condition.

Schizophrenia is characterised by hallucinations and delusions, bizarre behaviours and beliefs and disorganised thinking. Some people may only have one psychotic episode in their entire life whereas others may experience many. Some may go on to lead normal lives in between episodes and even make a full recovery whereas others may require long term help and medication. No two people with schizophrenia will have exactly the same experience. So what help is available?

Medication

Antipsychotic drugs or neuroleptics are likely to be offered in order to help reduce the hallucinations and delusions associated with schizophrenia. Again, as the symptoms of each individual are different, the amount of drugs required will vary significantly too.

Psychotherapy

Some form of psychotherapy either individually or in groups can help people with schizophrenia and their families to cope with life on a day to day basis. Schizophrenia can have a huge impact on social life, working life and on a person’s psychological state of mind too, impacting not only the individual suffering with schizophrenia but also their families and close friends. Therapy can provide much needed advice and support and can improve quality of life in general.

Electroconvulsive therapy

This is a radical and controversial treatment that is only used in extreme and exceptional circumstances.

What can you do to help yourself?

Try to learn as much as you can about schizophrenia in order to understand the symptoms and why you need the medication. By learning to recognise your own symptoms and signs you can take an active part in helping to control schizophrenia and remain more in control of your life at the same time. For example, by avoiding situations that are likely to stress you out and by indulging in activities you enjoy and by making an effort to talk to close friends and family about how you feel and if you think the symptoms are getting better or worse you are less likely to feel isolated and alone and will be in a better position to get the kind of help and support you need.

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