How Long does Schizophrenia last

By  , Expert Content
Feb 27, 2012

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Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and disabling brain disorder, which affects the person’s behaviour, thought and the way he/ she perceives the world around him/her. It is one of the most common serious mental health conditions, which affects men and women equally. The usual age of onset is 25 in men and around 30 in women. The exact cause of schizophrenia is not known. According to many experts, it is probably caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

How long does schizophrenia last?

Schizophrenia cannot be cured, but the symptoms can be effectively controlled in most patients with treatment (medications and psychosocial therapy). Treatment has to be continued even when symptoms have subsided. Stopping the treatment when the symptoms are better can cause relapse (recurrence of psychotic symptoms). If the person develops acute or severe symptoms, admission in a hospital may be needed to ensure safety, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and basic hygiene. Long-term medications are the key to successful management of schizophrenia. Antipsychotic medications (atypical and conventional or typical, antipsychotics) are the medications prescribed to treat psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.

Study on patients with schizophrenia for ten years after initial diagnosis has shown that:

  • About fifty percent of people with schizophrenia recover or improve to the point of being able to function independently.
  • About 25% show improvement, but need a strong support network to manage them.
  • About 15% fail to show any improvement and need to be hospitalised.
  • Unfortunately, 10% of people with schizophrenia end up committing suicide.

The most important factor, which determines recovery, is early diagnosis and proper treatment. In most cases, if a person is diagnosed and stabilised on an appropriate treatment regime in the initial stages of illness, the chance of recovery is better. Therefore, if you think you (or someone you know) may have signs and symptoms suggestive of schizophrenia, consult with a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

Other factors that influence the duration of symptoms and recovery include:

  • Family history of schizophrenia— if there are multiple relatives with schizophrenia, recovery from symptoms may be slow and the person may have recurrent symptoms.
  • Sudden onset of symptoms- chances for recovery are better if the symptoms start suddenly as opposed to when they come on slowly.
  • Supportive family- according to experts, people with schizophrenia recover faster and have a better quality of life if their family members are supportive during acute phase and when they are in remission.




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