Schizophrenia Therapy, Does It Make A Difference?

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Schizophrenia can be very distressing for the individual and their family and friends. Not only might the sufferer have to cope with frightening hallucinations and delusions, the negative symptoms can also have a disastrous effect on their personal relationships, social lives and career.

They may have to encounter members of the public or even members of their own family that are still ignorant as to the nature of Schizophrenia and therefore fearful of anyone who has the condition, and this is despite massive awareness campaigns to combat the stigma that is still attached to Schizophrenia and other mental health problems. Consequently, people with schizophrenia can feel socially isolated and very much alone, which will only increase their anxiety, stress and the chances of having a psychotic episode.

Apart from psychotic medication to control the hallucinations and delusions, it is therefore essential that the person suffering from Schizophrenia has understanding and supportive family and friends. Some sort of psychosocial intervention can be instrumental in helping an individual cope with Schizophrenia on a day to day basis.

Cognitive behaviour therapy for example, can identify behaviours, social skills or reactions to events that have been ‘learned’ over time that may be ineffective and possibly even destructive. People with Schizophrenia often misinterpret the world around them, including the intentions of others. A good psychologist will be able to understand what an individual’s perception of the reality is and work with them to help them manage their problems and interact with others more effectively.

Looking after a patient with Schizophrenia can also put an enormous amount of stress on a family, particularly if they don’t understand the nature of the illness and really don’t know how to deal with it. Family therapy can help families to understand the problems and difficulties they are likely to encounter and ultimately help them cope better, which will also have a positive effect on the individual with Schizophrenia.

How effective are psychosocial interventions?

Some research has indicated that they can reduce the number of psychotic experiences and reduce ‘relapse’ rates by as much as 50%.

Certainly, talking about how you feel and about your experiences in a safe environment with a person you can trust can be highly beneficial, both for the person with Schizophrenia and their families; therefore to get the best results you need to find a therapist that you feel comfortable with.

Unfortunately, psychosocial therapies are not routinely offered to all patients with Schizophrenia so you may have to ask what is available in your area.

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