The Prognosis For Chronic Schizophrenia

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Chronic schizophrenia is the long term state of schizophrenia, as opposed to acute schizophrenia which is when a previously healthy person develops hallucinations and delusions or other symptoms of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder for which there is currently no cure. It is characterised by a distortion of reality which can manifest itself by hallucinations, delusions and bizarre thought processes and ideas. It affects males and females in equal numbers although males tend to develop schizophrenia earlier than females. Roughly one percent of the population will develop schizophrenia.

The most common symptoms of chronic schizophrenia include social withdrawal, bizarre ideas or behaviours, depression, lack of interest in life, a reluctance to participate in conversation and general neglect of themselves and their appearance. Alcohol and substance abuse is often a feature.

Of course not everyone with chronic schizophrenia will display all the symptoms or to the same degree.

There isn’t a single identifiable cause of schizophrenia and instead several factors appear to play a role including genetics, brain chemistry, and biological and environmental factors.

Treatment tends to consist of anti-psychotic medication and psychological intervention. There isn’t a single treatment that is effective for all, what works for one person may not work for another so it really is a case of trial and error to find the best medication and therapy for each individual.

On saying all that, researchers have made progress towards an understanding of schizophrenia and treatment methods are improving. The outlook for people with schizophrenia is now a lot better than it was in the past.

Research shows that around a quarter of people diagnosed with schizophrenia will go on to make a full recovery, half will be able to cope and lead a satisfying life, and another quarter will find they need long term care and treatment.

Factors affecting long term outlook for people with chronic schizophrenia

It is important that treatment starts early as there is some evidence that the longer treatment is delayed, the worse the outlook.

Anti-psychotic medication is generally quite effective at treating the positive symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations and delusions but will not do anything to help the so called negative symptoms of schizophrenia such as lack of motivation and general apathy.

Family intervention therapies and some form of psychotherapy can help prevent further relapses and can make it easier for the person with schizophrenia to cope with their condition.

The long term outlook for people with chronic schizophrenia is likely to be worse if the symptoms of schizophrenia developed gradually, if treatment is delayed or stopped, or where there is poor social or family support.

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