Schizophrenia Treatment and Self-Help - HelpGuide.org (2022)

schizophrenia

Schizophrenia recovery is possible. These treatment and self-help tips can help you to manage symptoms, live and work independently, build satisfying relationships, and enjoy a rewarding life.

Schizophrenia Treatment and Self-Help - HelpGuide.org (1)

Schizophrenia: Recovery is possible

Getting a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be devastating. You may be struggling to think clearly, manage your emotions, relate to other people, or even function normally. But having schizophrenia doesn’t mean you can’t live a full and meaningful life. Despite the widespread misconception that people with schizophrenia have no chance of recovery or improvement, the reality is much more hopeful. Although currently there is no cure for schizophrenia, you can treat and manage it with medication, self-help strategies, and supportive therapies.

Since schizophrenia is often episodic, periods of remission from the severest symptoms often provide a good opportunity to start employing self-help strategies that may help to limit the length and frequency of future episodes. A diagnosis of schizophrenia is not a life-sentence of ever-worsening symptoms and hospitalizations. In fact, you have more control over your recovery than you probably realize.

The majority of people with schizophrenia get better over time, not worse. For every five people who develop schizophrenia:

  • One will get better within five years of experiencing their first symptoms.
  • Three will get better, but will still have times when their symptoms get worse.
  • One will continue to have troublesome symptoms.

What does schizophrenia recovery mean?

Coping with schizophrenia is a lifelong process. Recovery doesn't mean you won't experience any more challenges from the illness or that you'll always be symptom-free. What it does mean is that you are learning to manage your symptoms, developing the support you need, and creating a satisfying, purpose-driven life.

A treatment plan that combines medication with schizophrenia self-help, supportive services, and therapy is the most effective approach.

Encouraging facts about schizophrenia

  • Schizophrenia is treatable. Currently, there is no cure for schizophrenia, but the illness can be successfully treated and managed. The key is to have a strong support system in place and get the right treatment and self-help for your needs.
  • You can enjoy a fulfilling, meaningful life. With the right treatment, most people with schizophrenia are able to have satisfying relationships, work or pursue other meaningful activities, be part of their community, and enjoy life.
  • Just because you have schizophrenia doesn't mean you'll have to be hospitalized.If you're getting the right treatment and sticking to it, you are much less likely to experience a crisis situation that requires hospitalization.
  • Most people with schizophrenia improve.Many people with schizophrenia regain normal functioning and even become symptom-free. No matter what challenges you presently face, there is always hope.

Tip 1: Get involved in treatment and self-help

The earlier you catch schizophrenia and begin treatment with an experienced mental health professional, the better your chances of getting and staying well. So, if you suspect you or a loved one is exhibiting schizophrenia symptoms, seek help right away.

Successful schizophrenia treatment depends on a combination of factors. Medication alone is not enough. It's important to also educate yourself about the illness, communicate with your doctors and therapists, build a strong support system, take self-help measures, and stick to your treatment plan. Pursuing self-help strategies such as changing your diet, relieving stress, and seeking social support may not seem like effective tools to manage such a challenging disorder as schizophrenia, but they can have a profound effect on the frequency and severity of symptoms, improve the way you feel, and increase your self-esteem. And the more you help yourself, the less hopeless and helpless you'll feel, and the more likely your doctor will be able to reduce your medication.

While schizophrenia treatment should be individualized to your specific needs, you should always have a voice in the treatment process and your needs and concerns should be respected. Treatment works best when you, your family, and your medical team all work together.

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Your attitude towards schizophrenia treatment matters

Accept your diagnosis. As upsetting as a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be, resolving to take a proactive role in treatment and self-help is crucial to your recovery. That means making healthy lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medications, and attending medical and therapy appointments.

Don't buy into the stigma of schizophrenia.Many fears about schizophrenia are not based on reality. Take your illness seriously but don't buy into the myth that you can't improve. Associate with people who see beyond your diagnosis, to the person you really are.

Communicate with your doctor.Help your doctor ensure you're getting the right type and dose of medication. Be honest and upfront about side effects, concerns, and other treatment issues.

Pursue self-help and therapy that helps you manage symptoms.Don't rely on medication alone. Self-help strategies can help you to manage symptoms and regain a sense of control over your health and well-being. Supportive therapy can teach you how to challenge delusional beliefs, ignore voices in your head, protect against relapse, and motivate yourself to persevere with treatment and self-help.

Set and work toward life goals. Having schizophrenia doesn't mean you can't work, have relationships, or experience a fulfilling life. Set meaningful life goals for yourself beyond your illness.

Getting a diagnosis

The first step to schizophrenia treatment is getting a correct diagnosis. This isn't always easy, since the symptoms of schizophrenia can resemble those caused by other mental and physical health problems. Furthermore, people with schizophrenia may believe nothing is wrong and resist going to the doctor.

Because of these issues, it is best to see a psychiatrist with experience identifying and treating schizophrenia, rather than a family doctor.

Tip 2: Get active

As well as providing all theemotional and physical benefits, regular exercise can even help to manage symptoms of schizophrenia. Unless you're experiencing a psychotic episode, getting physically active is something you can do right now to improve your focus, relieve stress, give you more energy, help you sleep, and make you feel calmer.

You don't have to become a fitness fanatic or join a gym, but rather, find a physical activity you enjoy and aim for 30 minutes of movement on most days. If it's easier, three 10-minute sessions can be just as effective. Rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing, can be especially effective at calming your nervous system. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, try to focus on how your body feels as you move—how your feet hit the ground, for example, the rhythm of your breathing, or the feeling of the wind on your skin.

Tip 3: Seek face-to-face support

Connecting face-to-face with others is the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Since stress can trigger psychosis and make the symptoms of schizophrenia worse, keeping it under control is extremely important. Find someone you can connect with face to face on a regular basis—someone you can talk to for an uninterrupted period of time who will listen to you without judging, criticizing, or continually becoming distracted.

As well as helping to relieve stress, having the support of others can make a huge difference in the outlook for schizophrenia. When people who care about you are involved in your treatment, you're more likely to achieve independence and avoid relapse.

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Ways to find support

Turn to trusted friends and family members. Your loved ones can help you get the right treatment, keep your symptoms under control, and function well in your community. Ask loved ones if you can call on them in times of need. Most people will be flattered by your request for support.

Stay involved with others. If you're able to continue work or education, do so. Otherwise, pursue a passion, cultivate a new hobby, or volunteer to help other people, animals, or causes important to you. As well as keeping you connected, helping others can give you a sense of purpose and boost your self-esteem.

Meet new people. Joining a schizophrenia support group can help you meet other people dealing with the same challenges and learn important coping tips. Or get involved with a local church, club, or other organization.

Find a supportive living environment. People with schizophrenia often function best when they're able to remain at home, surrounded by supportive family members. If that's not a viable option for you, many communities offer residential and treatment facilities. Look for a living environment that is stable, makes you feel safe, and will enable you to follow your treatment and self-help plans.

Take advantage of support services in your area. Ask your doctor or therapist about services available in your area or contact hospitals and mental health clinics, or see the hotlines and support section below for links to support services.

Tip 4: Manage stress

The day-to-day stress of living with a challenging emotional disorder such as schizophrenia can be draining. High levels of stress also increase the body's production of the hormone cortisol, which may trigger psychotic episodes. As well as exercising and staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels:

Know your limits, both at home and at work or school. Don't take on more than you can handle and take time for yourself if you feel overwhelmed.

Use relaxation techniques to relieve stress.Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation can put the brakes on stress and bring your mind and body back into a state of balance.

Manage your emotions. Understanding and accepting emotions—especially those unpleasant ones most of us try to ignore—can make a huge difference in your ability to manage stress, balance your moods, and maintain control of your life. See HelpGuide'sEmotional Intelligence Toolkit.

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Tip 5: Take care of yourself

Making simple lifestyle changes can have a huge impact on the way you feel as well as your symptoms.

Try to get plenty of sleep.When you're on medication, you most likely need evenmore sleepthan the standard 8 hours. Many people with schizophrenia have trouble with sleep, but getting regular exercise, reducing sugar in your diet, and avoiding caffeine can help.

Avoid alcohol and drugs.It can be tempting to try to self-medicate the symptoms of schizophrenia with drugs and alcohol. But substance abuse complicates schizophrenia treatment and only worsens symptoms. If you have a substance abuse problem,seek help.

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Eat a healthy, balanced diet.Eating regular, nutritious meals can help avoid psychosis and other schizophrenia symptoms brought on by substantial changes in blood sugar levels. Minimize sugar and refined carbs, foods that quickly lead to a crash in mood and energy. Boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish, fish oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds to help improve focus, banish fatigue, and balance your moods.

Tip 6: Understand the role of medication

If you've been diagnosed with schizophrenia, you will almost certainly be offered antipsychotic medication. The two main groups of medications used for the treatment of schizophrenia are the older or “typical” antipsychotic medications and the newer “atypical” antipsychotic medications. It's important to understand that medication is just one component of schizophrenia treatment.

Medication is not a cure for schizophrenia and only treats some of the symptoms.Antipsychotic medication reduces psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and disordered thinking. But is much less helpful for treating symptoms of schizophrenia such as social withdrawal, lack of motivation, and lack of emotional expressiveness.

You should not have to put up with disabling side effects.Schizophrenia medication can have very unpleasant—even disabling—side effects such as drowsiness, lack of energy, uncontrollable movements, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. Your quality of life is important, so talk to your doctor if you're bothered by side effects.

Never reduce or stop medication on your own.

Sudden or unsupervised dosage changes are dangerous, and can trigger a schizophrenia relapse or other complications. If you're having trouble with your medication or feel like you don't need to take it, talk to your doctor or someone else that you trust.

Authors: Melinda Smith, M.A., Lawrence Robinson, and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D.

Get more help

Schizophrenia: The Journey to Recovery(PDF) – Handbook discusses diagnosis and treatment issues. (Canadian Psychiatric Association)

Schizophrenia Treatment– Medications and ECT used to treat schizophrenia. (Mayo Clinic)

Schizophrenia– Including self-help, treatment, and hopeful outlooks. (Royal College of Psychiatrists)

Helplines and support

In the U.S.: Call 1-800-950-6264 or visit NAMI.org

UK: Call 0300 5000 927 or visit Rethink: Schizophrenia

Australia: Call 1800 18 7263 or visit Sane Australia

Canada: Visit Schizophrenia Society of Canada for links to regional societies that offer helplines and local services

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India: Call the Vandrevala Foundation Helpline at 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330

Around the web

Last updated: October 13, 2022

FAQs

Can you self cure schizophrenia? ›

Although currently there is no cure for schizophrenia, you can treat and manage it with medication, self-help strategies, and supportive therapies.

What are self help strategies for schizophrenia? ›

It could help to:
  • Pay attention to what triggers your symptoms. Some activities, situations or people might seem to have a particular effect.
  • Ask other people to help. You could ask someone you trust to let you know if they notice changes in your moods or behaviour.
  • Keep going to appointments. ...
  • Try a mood diary.

How do you overcome schizophrenia without medication? ›

Alternative therapies

In some cases, schizophrenia can be treated naturally. Some providers may use talk therapy, communication and social skills training, family therapy and career coaching. In other cases, your provider might ask you to relax and try exercises like yoga .

What should schizophrenics avoid? ›

Avoiding drugs and alcohol

Alcohol can cause depression and psychosis, while illegal drugs may make your schizophrenia worse. Drugs and alcohol can also react badly with antipsychotic medicines. If you're currently using drugs or alcohol and finding it hard to stop, ask your care co-ordinator or GP for help.

What vitamins are good for schizophrenia? ›

A review of worldwide studies has found that add-on treatment with high-dose b-vitamins - including B6, B8 and B12 - can significantly reduce symptoms of schizophrenia more than standard treatments alone.

What food is good for schizophrenia? ›

People with schizophrenia tend to eat diets higher in fat and lower in fiber. Make sure your diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Eating a healthy diet can also help you avoid the weight gain that antipsychotic medicines may cause.

How do you calm a schizophrenic mind? ›

Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer.

How do you calm down a schizophrenic? ›

10 tips for handling a schizophrenia crisis
  1. Remember that you cannot reason with acute psychosis.
  2. The person may be terrified by their own feelings of loss of control.
  3. Don't express irritation or anger.
  4. Speak quietly and calmly, do not shout or threaten the person.
  5. Don't use sarcasm as a weapon.
3 days ago

What therapy is best for schizophrenia? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, may be a treatment option for people with schizophrenia. CBT teaches a person to modify beliefs or behaviors that may be leading to negative emotions.

What herbs cure schizophrenia? ›

Some natural herbs, like ginseng and ashwagandha, have been found to be beneficial in controlling the symptoms and improving the overall well-being of schizophrenia patients.

Does Vitamin D Help schizophrenia? ›

We found a significant improvement in both positive and negative symptoms after eliminating vitamin D deficiency in outpatient schizophrenia patients. In addition to its neurodevelopmental effects in the intrauterine period, vitamin D provides neuroprotection in the adult brain [57].

What essential oils are good for schizophrenia? ›

Essential Oils That May Help People With Schizophrenia

When it comes to mental health, Chesla generally recommends essential oils that can calm or energize you, or that might help you sleep. For soothing your mind, Chesla's two favorites are lavender and frankincense, either used alone or combined together.

What foods make schizophrenia worse? ›

Also, schizophrenia patients had poor dietary patterns with more saturated fats, sugar and alcohol as well as less intakes of fish, vegetables, and fruits, which may be related to impaired cognitive function [12,13].

What can worsen schizophrenia? ›

Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode.
...
The main psychological triggers of schizophrenia are stressful life events, such as:
  • bereavement.
  • losing your job or home.
  • divorce.
  • the end of a relationship.
  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

Do schizophrenics know they are ill? ›

Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia

One is that people with the disorder often don't realize they're ill, so they're unlikely to go to a doctor for help. Another issue is that many of the changes leading up to schizophrenia, called the prodrome, can mirror other normal life changes.

Is Turmeric Good for schizophrenia? ›

While Potentially Beneficial, Turmeric Isn't Considered a Treatment for Schizophrenia.

Can fish oil help schizophrenia? ›

Omega-3 supplementation is more effective in reducing psychotic symptom severity in young adults or adolescents in the prodromal phase of schizophrenia who have low omega-3 baseline. Omega-3 supplementation was more effective in patients with low PUFA baseline.

Can probiotics help schizophrenia? ›

[17] Probiotic supplementation has a promising potential for patients with schizophrenia who commonly have stress, low nutrition, lactose sensitivity, and inflammatory stress. Lactobacillus supplementation in asymptomatic obese individuals has been found to reduce the fat content of subcutaneous and visceral abdomen.

Is coffee good for schizophrenia? ›

In conclusion, our data suggests that moderate caffeine doses, rather than high caffeine doses, may be beneficial to executive function performance in patients with schizophrenia.

Should someone with schizophrenia live alone? ›

Many people with schizophrenia are able to live independently. However, this is not the case for all people with schizophrenia. There are several things that people with schizophrenia should know to overcome the difficulties of their illness and live on their own: Early diagnosis and treatment leads to better outcomes.

What deficiency causes schizophrenia? ›

Decreased brain levels of vitamin B12 have also been reported in schizophrenia[59]. Deficiencies in vitamin D have also been implicated in schizophrenia, and developmental deficiency of D3 has been associated with an increased risk of developing schizophrenia in adulthood[13,60,61].

What jobs are good for schizophrenics? ›

People with schizophrenia hold all kinds of positions, including senior managers and other professionals, cleaners and laborers, and salespeople. You may not have experience in a certain field, but if the job tasks fit your abilities, give it a try.

What are good activities for someone with schizophrenia? ›

Sometimes when a person with schizophrenia is unwell they may turn against people they are normally close to. Encourage them to participate in one-to-one activities, for example card games, chess, jigsaw puzzles, walking.

What drugs cause schizophrenia? ›

Drugs do not directly lead to or cause schizophrenia. However, studies have found that drug abuse increases the odds of developing schizophrenia or other related illnesses. Specific drugs like cocaine, cannabis, LSD, or amphetamines can trigger symptoms of schizophrenia in those more susceptible to the condition.

How long does a schizophrenic episode last? ›

A schizophrenic episode can last days or weeks, and in rare cases, months, says Dr. D'Souza. Some people may experience only one or two schizophrenic episodes in their lifetime, whereas for others the episodes may come and go in phases.

How do you talk to a schizophrenic? ›

Speak in a calm, quiet voice, not only with the person in crisis but also with others who may be present. Keep instructions or explanations clear and simple. Don't challenge or criticize your loved one's delusions or hallucinations. Focus on their feelings instead.

Does reading help schizophrenia? ›

The study suggests that bolstering reading skills could help people with schizophrenia achieve higher levels of education or occupation.

Is it possible to fully recover from schizophrenia? ›

Schizophrenia Recovery

Some people do recover “fully” from schizophrenia. Ten years after diagnosis: 50% of people with schizophrenia recover or improve to the point they can work and live on their own. 25% are better but need help from a strong support network to get by.

Does stress make schizophrenia worse? ›

For people living with schizophrenia stress has a special significance because excessive stress is often a cause of a relapse of the psychotic symptoms and so they must be very careful to manage and monitor the stress in their lives.

Why do schizophrenics stop taking medication? ›

The single most significant reason why individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder fail to take their medication is because of their lack of awareness of their illness (anosognosia). Other important reasons are concurrent alcohol or drug abuse; costs; and a poor relationship between psychiatrist and patient.

What is the last stage of schizophrenia? ›

The last stage is the residual phase of schizophrenia. In this phase, you're starting to recover, but still have some symptoms.

Is there a natural antipsychotic? ›

Some studies suggest that glycine, sarcosine, NAC, several Chinese and ayurvedic herbs, ginkgo biloba, estradiol, and vitamin B6 may be effective for psychotic symptoms when added to antipsychotics (glycine not when added to clozapine).

How do you stop psychosis naturally? ›

For example, it can help to:
  1. Try to get enough sleep. Sleep can help give you the energy to cope with difficult feelings and experiences. ...
  2. Think about your diet. ...
  3. Try to do some physical activity. ...
  4. Spend time outside. ...
  5. Avoid drugs and alcohol.

Can you recover from schizophrenia without medication? ›

Clearly, some with schizophrenia fare better without antipsychotic drugs. But not all. Many individuals with schizophrenia are better off taking antipsychotic drugs for long-term. It has been known for a century that some individuals with schizophrenia recover and do not need ongoing treatment.

Is Magnesium Good for schizophrenia? ›

In addition, patients with schizophrenia have lower erythrocyte magnesium levels than controls. Magnesium plays a major role in calming the nervous system due to it's ability to block brain N-methyl D-aspartate receptors (NMDA), thereby inhibiting excitatory neurotransmission.

Is there a better drug than clozapine? ›

Loxapine can be an excellent alternative to clozapine.

Is Vitamin C good schizophrenia? ›

Vitamin C therapy has been clinically tested in a few people with schizophrenia and has shown some promise, but more research is necessary. Vitamin C supplements produce very little side effects other than diarrhea, gas and bloating, and stomach cramps at higher doses.

How long does it take to stabilize schizophrenia? ›

Most people's psychotic symptoms can be stabilized within 6 weeks from the time they start medication. Antipsychotic medications allow patients to be discharged from the hospital much earlier. Reduce likelihood of relapse and rehospitalization. The more relapses a person has, the harder it is to recover from them.

Is Ashwagandha good for schizophrenia? ›

Conclusions: This early study suggests that adjunctive treatment with a standardized extract of Withania somnifera provides significant benefits, with minimal side effects, for negative, general, and total symptoms and stress in patients with recent exacerbation of schizophrenia.

Can you treat schizophrenia without medication? ›

Treatment of schizophrenia without medication is primarily with psychotherapy. Psychotherapy takes place in sessions with a clinical therapist who works with clients to help them manage and navigate reality and distortions in their thoughts.

Can you fully recover from schizophrenia? ›

Schizophrenia Recovery

Some people do recover “fully” from schizophrenia. Ten years after diagnosis: 50% of people with schizophrenia recover or improve to the point they can work and live on their own. 25% are better but need help from a strong support network to get by.

Can schizophrenics live a normal life without medication? ›

Clearly, some with schizophrenia fare better without antipsychotic drugs. But not all. Many individuals with schizophrenia are better off taking antipsychotic drugs for long-term. It has been known for a century that some individuals with schizophrenia recover and do not need ongoing treatment.

Can schizophrenia go away with age? ›

Schizophrenia does not typically get better as you get older. The symptoms of schizophrenia may become worse over time, or they may remain the same for some people. Schizophrenia is a chronic illness that can be managed with medication and therapy, but it does not typically go away as you get older.

Does Vitamin D Help schizophrenia? ›

We found a significant improvement in both positive and negative symptoms after eliminating vitamin D deficiency in outpatient schizophrenia patients. In addition to its neurodevelopmental effects in the intrauterine period, vitamin D provides neuroprotection in the adult brain [57].

How do you calm down a schizophrenic? ›

7 Ways to Support a Loved One with Schizophrenia
  1. Read up.
  2. Validate.
  3. Ask questions.
  4. Stay in touch.
  5. Make a crisis plan.
  6. Offer encouragement.
  7. Help with goals.
  8. Things to avoid.

What type of therapy is best for schizophrenia? ›

Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT, may be a treatment option for people with schizophrenia. CBT teaches a person to modify beliefs or behaviors that may be leading to negative emotions.

What do schizophrenics do all day? ›

People with the disorder may hear voices other people don't hear, or see things that others don't see. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. They may sit for hours without moving or talking.

Does schizophrenia get worse at night? ›

At night time Nadia tends to experience stronger psychosis symptoms related to her Schizophrenia diagnosis, which makes it harder for others in her home. Nadia's hallucinations are often disruptive, wake the rest of her family, and tend to keep the others in her home from having restful sleep.

What can trigger schizophrenia? ›

Some people may be prone to schizophrenia, and a stressful or emotional life event might trigger a psychotic episode.
...
The main psychological triggers of schizophrenia are stressful life events, such as:
  • bereavement.
  • losing your job or home.
  • divorce.
  • the end of a relationship.
  • physical, sexual or emotional abuse.

What jobs are good for schizophrenics? ›

People with schizophrenia hold all kinds of positions, including senior managers and other professionals, cleaners and laborers, and salespeople. You may not have experience in a certain field, but if the job tasks fit your abilities, give it a try.

Do schizophrenics know they are ill? ›

Early Warning Signs of Schizophrenia

One is that people with the disorder often don't realize they're ill, so they're unlikely to go to a doctor for help. Another issue is that many of the changes leading up to schizophrenia, called the prodrome, can mirror other normal life changes.

Can someone with schizophrenia live alone? ›

With medication, most schizophrenics are able to have some control over the disorder. It is estimated that approximately 28% of schizophrenics live independently, 20% live in group homes, and about 25% live with family members.

Does schizophrenia damage the brain? ›

Schizophrenia has been described as the “worst disease” to afflict mankind. It causes psychosis, which is an abnormal state of mind marked by hyperarousal, overactivation of brain circuits, and emotional distress. An untreated episode of psychosis can result in structural brain damage due to neurotoxicity.

What is the average lifespan of a person with schizophrenia? ›

What is the life expectancy for people with schizophrenia? People with schizophrenia generally live about 15 to 20 years less than those without the condition.

Does schizophrenia show on a brain scan? ›

In patients with schizophrenia, MR imaging shows a smaller total brain volume and enlarged ventricles. Specific subcortical regions are affected, with reduced hippocampal and thalamic volumes, and an increase in the volume of the globus pallidus.

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