Many people with schizophrenia have learned to cope with their psychiatric disorders.
Doctors say there are approximately 2.5 million people with schizophrenia. Of those, typically 10-20% will achieve successful recovery. However, new research suggests that treatment of schizophrenia could be up to 68% successful if psycho-social therapy is applied. In fact, famous schizophrenics like Nobel prize winning mathematician John Nash, Pink Floyd guitarist Syd Barrett or author Jack Kerouac have all gone on to live thriving lives with the help of medication and schizophrenia support counseling.
A major problem with the treatment of schizophrenia is that it focuses solely on medication to attack the positive symptoms – which include aural and visual hallucinations, disordered thinking and outright delusions. While medication is essential, many schizophrenia patients have trouble staying on their medication.
They may dislike the side effects of the anti-psychotic drugs or they may feel like they’ve been “cured” if the symptoms haven’t reappeared in awhile. Yet it is a severe mental illness that most people have for their entire lives that may lie dormant and resurface suddenly and without warning. Therefore, behavior therapy and support are crucial to one’s recovery.
The best treatment of schizophrenia addresses the disorder’s negative symptoms too. “Negative symptoms” pertains to things that people are lacking. For instance, many schizophrenics have what is called “agoraphobia,” meaning a fear of people and social situations.
They lack the ability to talk easily with others or the understanding of how to act. They may also lack emotional responsiveness, making it difficult to show love or receive love from others, hindering romantic relationships. They also lack motivation and suffer depression.
Research from 1955 to 1965 done by Courtenay M. Harding suggests that “a very large group of consumers has achieved remarkable recovery. They are people who, in spite of ongoing symptoms, have carved out a life.
They have goals, they make choices, and they improve their situation with the right type of interventions.” The new successful interventions for people with schizophrenia (like those used in Vermont) include: self-sufficiency, rehabilitation and community integration, where as the old intervention (as used in Maine) was meds, maintenance and stabilization.
It is estimated that out of all the people with schizophrenia, 1/10 males commit suicide. Often suicidal episodes happen either during a psychotic attack or within the first six to nine months of realizing they have schizophrenia and starting medication, and while having difficulty coping.
This is where behavior therapy and support systems become so crucial. However, it’s difficult financially for many patients since insurance companies refuse to recognize the importance of counseling and long-term rehabilitation programs.