Types of Mental Health Specialists
Choosing the right doctor and/or therapist to treat schizophrenia and other mental health issues may seem like a daunting task. But, finding the right doctor is an important step towards getting the right treatment. A number of different types of doctors can treat mental illnesses, including the following:
Psychiatrists: These professionals diagnose and specialize in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental, emotional, or behavioral problems...
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 negative symptoms, outbursts of anger, or odd behavior. For more information, see Symptoms.
This phase can last for days, months, or years before positive symptoms appear.
Active, or acute, phase
At some point you start
positive symptoms, such as
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, positive symptoms get better, especially
with treatment, and life may be more "normal." This is called
remission. But symptoms may get worse again, which is
relapse. You may have this cycle of symptoms that get
severe and then improve.
In each cycle,
the positive symptoms may become less intense, but the
negative symptoms 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.
Tips for avoiding relapse
Learn how to recognize the
first signs of relapse, such as not wanting to do
things with others, and have a plan to deal with it and get help right
If you need help deciding whether to see your doctor, read
about some of the reasons people don't get help and how to
Social concerns, such as other
people's attitudes. People who don't understand schizophrenia or other mental
health problems may treat you differently. Find family and friends who want to
support you and help you with relationships. Help them understand
Smoking. Many people who have
schizophrenia smoke cigarettes. This may be because smoking helps with some of
the symptoms. But smoking makes other illnesses, such
as cancer and heart disease, more likely. For more information see the topic
Having a baby. If you
have schizophrenia and want to have a baby, talk to your doctor. Medicines
that you take for schizophrenia can cause birth defects, and not taking your
medicine puts you at risk for a relapse. Your doctor can help you plan your
pregnancy so there will be as little risk as possible to you and your
Substance abuse. Many people who have schizophrenia
abuse alcohol or drugs. When you have schizophrenia and a substance abuse
problem, it's called a
dual diagnosis. Talk with your doctor
or another trusted person about getting help for substance