Living with Schizophrenia

Most people with schizophrenia make a recovery, although many will experience the occasional return of symptoms (relapses). With support and treatment, you may be able to manage your condition so it doesn’t have a big impact on your life.

Spotting the signs of an acute schizophrenic episode

Learning to recognise the signs you are becoming unwell can help you manage your illness. These can include losing your appetite, feeling anxious or stressed or having disturbed sleep. You may also notice some milder symptoms developing, such as feeling suspicious or fearful, worrying about people’s motives, hearing voices quietly or occasionally, or finding concentration difficult. You may also want to ask someone you trust to tell you if they notice your behaviour changing.

Recognising initial signs of an acute schizophrenic episode can be useful, as it may be prevented through the use of antipsychotic medicines and extra support.

If you have another acute episode of schizophrenia, your written care plan should be followed, particularly any advance statement or crisis plan. Your care plan will include the likely signs of a developing relapse and the steps to take, including emergency contact numbers

Avoiding drugs and alcohol

While alcohol and drugs may provide short-term relief from your symptoms of schizophrenia, they are likely to make your symptoms worse in the long run. Alcohol can cause depression and psychosis, while illegal drugs may make your schizophrenia worse. Drugs and alcohol can also react badly with antipsychotic medicines. If you are currently using drugs or alcohol and finding it hard to stop, ask your psychologist or doctor for help.

Taking your medication

It is important to take your medication as prescribed, even if you start to feel better. Continuous medication can help prevent relapses. If you have questions or concerns about medication you are taking or any side effects, talk to your doctor or psychologist/psychiatrist.

It may also be useful to read the information leaflet that comes with the medication about possible interactions with other drugs or supplements. It is worth checking with your healthcare team if you plan to take any over-the-counter remedies, such as painkillers, or any nutritional supplements. This is because these can sometimes interfere with your medication.

Regular reviews

Make regular appointments with your doctor, psychiatrist/psychologist and get yourself checked out from time. That way your doctor and you will both be aware of the state of your mental health and if relapse occurs, it may be detected quite early.

Self-care

Self-care is an integral part of daily life. It means you take responsibility for your own health and wellbeing with support from those involved in your care.

Self-care includes things you do each day to stay fit, maintain good physical and mental health, prevent illness or accidents, and effectively deal with minor ailments and long-term conditions.

People living with long-term conditions can benefit enormously if they have support for self-care. They can live longer, have less pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue, have a better quality of life and are more active and independent.

About the author

Maya Expert Team