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Schizophrenia: High Suicide Rate

There is a high suicide rate associated with schizophrenia. A recent study showed that 30 percent of patients diagnosed with the condition had attempted suicide at least once during their lifetime. Another study suggested that 10 percent of persons with schizophrenia die by suicide.

Schizophrenia, a form of psychosis, is characterized with impairments in the perception or expression of reality. It is characterized by hallucinations, delusions or disorganization in speech and in the thinking process. The disease is common in young adults and affects approximately one percent of the population.

Schizophrenia occurs equally in males and females although it typically appears earlier in males with the peak ages of onset between 15 to 25 years and 25 to 35 years for females. Diagnosis is based on the patient’s experiences and observed behavior. There is no laboratory test for schizophrenia. Genetics, environment, neurobiology, as well as psychological and social processes are important contributing factors.

Schizophrenia is often described in terms of positive (or productive) and negative (or deficit) symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, as well as thought disorders typically regarded as manifestations of psychosis. Negative symptoms are so-named because they involve the loss or absence of normal traits or abilities. These include flat or blunted emotion, limited speech, loss of interest, and lack of motivation.

Antipsychotic drugs are given for schizophrenia. They reduce the “positive” symptoms of psychosis. Most drugs take around seven to
14 days before they have any effect. Though expensive, the newer drugs are usually preferred over the older ones since they are often better tolerated and have fewer side effects.

Other treatment modalities therapy) that is rarely used nowadays. Psychological interventions are also employed to help patients understand their condition better, thus improving patient compliance. Social interventions like family therapy are also done to inform family members about the patient’s condition and to enable them to participate in the treatment process.

Numerous international studies have demonstrated favorable long┬Čterm outcomes for around half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia. One study found that about one-third recovered from the disorder. Several factors are associated with a better prognosis: being female, the acute onset of symptoms, an older age at the first episode, predominantly positive (rather than negative) symptoms, and the presence of mood symptoms. There is enough evidence to suggest that negative attitudes can have a significant adverse impact on
patients.

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