Schizophrenia Recovery

Mental illness recovery is often a slow process and requires a strong commitment from everyone involved. Although recovery from schizophrenia is possible, complete recovery is rare. Unfortunately, most patients experience residual schizophrenia symptoms for their entire lives. Successful recovery from schizophrenia requires psychotherapy, family support and compliance with antipsychotic medication.

Schizophrenia and Recovery Factors

Certain factors improve an individual’s chance of recovery from schizophrenia:

  • Patients in good health before the onset of schizophrenia symptoms have better recovery rates.
  • Patients whose schizophrenia symptoms develop rapidly appear to respond better to treatment than patients whose symptoms develop over long periods of time.
  • People who experience predominantly “positive” schizophrenia symptoms (hallucinations, delusional thoughts, etc.) respond better to antipsychotic medications than patients with mostly “negative” symptoms (blunted emotions, loss of motivation, etc.).
  • People with paranoid schizophrenia generally have better recovery rates than those with other types of schizophrenia.

Psychotherapy, Schizophrenia and Recovery

Individual psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy can aid recovery from schizophrenia. Psychotherapy, however, is most effective at improving recovery from schizophrenia after antipsychotic medications reduce psychotic symptoms.

Psychotherapy provides a safe environment for patients to discuss experiences, personal beliefs and the challenges of living with schizophrenia. Psychotherapy also helps people identify schizophrenia symptoms and differentiate between real and psychotic stimuli.

Recovery from Schizophrenia and Employment

Successful mental illness recovery allows people to re-enter society, which usually means returning to the workforce. Employment can raise self-esteem, increase socialization and improve overall quality of life. Sadly, rates of employment among people living with schizophrenia are low. Doctors and therapists can provide information on vocational programs that provide employment assistance.

Schizophrenia and Recovery for Families

Successful recovery from schizophrenia requires long-term treatment. All too often, hospitals release schizophrenia patients within days, even though it takes weeks for antipsychotic medications to relieve symptoms. Once released, patients often stop taking medication. Family members should work closely with doctors to make sure their loved ones receive the proper treatment and maintenance.

Schizophrenia and Recovery Risks: Relapses

Schizophrenia recovery doesn’t assume the patient will be continuously symptom-free; delusional thoughts may surface occasionally. Psychotherapy can teach patients to identify delusional thoughts, and family members can learn to identify delusional thinking by attending psychotherapy educational sessions.

Other common challenges patients may face after recovery from schizophrenia include difficulty focusing, mood swings, social withdrawal and problems communicating.

Relapse after schizophrenia recovery occurs even with medication. Family and friends who are able to understand and recognize an individual’s psychotic behavior can often detect early symptoms of relapse, allowing for quicker treatment interventions. Warning signs, however, may be apparently harmless. For instance, many people clip newspaper coupons. If a person’s delusions cause him to believe coupons are secret messages, sudden coupon collecting may be a sign of a relapse after mental illness recovery.

Resources

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2009). Returning home – family concerns. Retrieved July 8, 2010, from http://www.camh.net/About_Addiction_Mental_Health/
Mental_Health_Information/Schizophrenia/schizophrenia_family_concerns.html

Fauci, A., Braunwald, E., Isselbacher, K., Wilson, J., Martin, J., …