Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder that can have a dramatic negative impact on a person’s ability to interact effectively with his/her environment. To be diagnosed with schizophrenia, a person would have to present with two or more of the following symptoms over a significant portion of a given one-month period: delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior and negative symptoms (e.g., mood flattening, lack of motivation or poverty of speech) (DSM-V, American Psychiatric Association, Washington, DC).
There are, however, things a person suffering from schizophrenia can do to help manage this disorder and not all of that involves medications alone or in combination with talk therapy. Clearly, though, significant work continues in earnest to identify new, more effective and safer drugs to treat this disorder. For example, there are a number of highly reputable Schizophrenia Clinical Trials currently being conducted at medical/research facilities throughout the United States. Such trials offer participants the opportunity to take an investigational drug that may prove more effective in managing the symptoms of their disorder than what they are or have been taking in the past.
There are however, other things you, personally, can do to manage this disorder in addition to participating in psychotherapy and/or medical management through drugs or even participating in Schizophrenia Clinical Trials. For example, there is a great website entitled “Living With Schizophrenia” that highlights, among other things, a number of important coping and proactive management skills that you can exercise to help you cope with your illness. These include 1) learning how to cope with stress, 2) taking an active roll in effectively managing your medication(s) and dealing with the various side effects that patients commonly experience while taking antipsychotic medications, 3) being prepared for relapses, 4) learning how a healthy diet may have the potential of positively impacting how you feel, 5) how to organize your time more effectively, and 6) keeping track of your symptoms so that you can anticipate when things are beginning to deteriorate or begin to move out of your control. This last point can be particularly challenging as people frequently do not recognize or refuse to accept when their behavior is beginning to deteriorate or not working well for them in social situations.
The upshot of all of the above is that YOU need to take the steps necessary to get help and effectively manage your life. If you are not willing to accept that you have a problem and/or are unwilling to get help, you and those around you will suffer. Don’t wait for things to get to the point where others feel motivated to intervene on your behalf. You don’t have to go it alone. Friends and family can be an important resource to tap to help you manage this disorder rather than it managing you. In addition, there are numerous support groups (both community-based as well as through social networking sites) that you can join to share what you are going through and to hear how others are trying to cope.
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