You may think holding down a job is too much for someone with schizophrenia. But with treatment, many people can -- and should -- stay in the game.
"People feel better about themselves if they're doing something productive," says Steven Jewell, MD, associate professor of psychiatry at Northeast Ohio Medical University. "It's critical to recovery to move forward with your life, whether it's at school or at work." Jewell advocates a team approach to providing patients the treatment, skills, and support...
There are four stages of schizophrenia: prodromal phase, active or acute phase, remission, and relapse.
Schizophrenia usually starts with this phase, when symptoms are vague and easy to miss. They are often the same as symptoms of other mental health problems, such as depression or other anxiety disorders. They may not seem unusual for teens or young adults. In fact, schizophrenia is rarely diagnosed at this time.
Symptoms are sometimes triggered by stress or changes, such as going away to school, starting to use drugs or alcohol, or going through a severe illness or a death in the family.
These first symptoms often include being withdrawn, outbursts of anger, or odd behavior. For more information, see Symptoms.
This phase can last for days, months, or years.
Active, or acute, phase
At some point you start to have symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, or confusing thoughts and speech.
These symptoms may appear suddenly or slowly over time. They can be severe and can cause a psychotic episode, which means you can't tell the difference between what is real and what isn't real.
This phase usually lasts 4 to 8 weeks. This is when schizophrenia usually is diagnosed.
Remission and relapse
After an active phase, symptoms get better, especially with treatment, and life may be more "normal." This is called remission. But symptoms may get worse again, which is called a relapse. You may have this cycle of symptoms that get severe and then improve.
In each cycle, symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions may become less intense, but other symptoms, such as feeling less interested in caring for yourself, may get worse. You may have few or many cycles before you are able to stay in remission.
Within 5 to 10 years, you may develop a unique pattern of illness that often stays the same throughout your life. It also is possible that you will have fewer relapses as you get older and may even not have symptoms.