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Is It Possible to Prevent Schizophrenia?

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What to Do if Schizophrenia Runs in Your Family continued...

Learn how to manage stress. Chronic stress and anxiety can be bad for your health.

It's important to set up healthy strategies to manage stress, says Cheryl Corcoran, MD, a research scientist at Columbia University's New York State Psychiatric Institute. You can do this in therapy or learn from your parents, teachers, or other role models who seem to manage stress well.

Take care of your body. Good nutrition and plenty of exercise are important.

Take steps to protect yourself from head injuries, too. For example, wear helmets when biking or playing contact sports -- and be cautious about activities that put you at risk for head injuries.

Try fish oil. One new study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish oil) may lower the risk of psychotic disorders from getting worse, and might even prevent psychosis in some young children who are already at risk of it because of family history, although this has not been conclusively proven.

Take care of yourself if you're pregnant. Get good prenatal care, too. This will minimize the effects of stress or infection on your baby, and can lower your risk of complications, Corcoran says.

See a psychiatrist. If you have any symptoms, like feelings of suspiciousness or unusual thoughts, see a psychiatrist. Cognitive behavioral therapy may help someone better spot the early signs of schizophrenia and help minimize its impact on work, school, and social life. In this type of therapy, a trained psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker helps patients recognize negative patterns of thought and come up with new ways of thinking about problems.

Know the numbers. Even if schizophrenia runs in your family, it's likely you won't get it. About 85% of people with a family history of schizophrenia don't develop it themselves, Corcoran says. "So along with doing all of these things, keep these numbers in mind and try not to worry." 

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Reviewed on March 26, 2014

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