In principle, the psychological disorder of schizophrenia is considered curable. However, since the exact causes of the disease are not yet understood, one cannot speak of a causal cure for schizophrenia. Patients are considered cured if they have no symptoms for a certain period of time. About 30% of all schizophrenia patients achieve this state.

Read more on the topic: What are the causes of schizophrenia?

But even if no cure is possible for an affected person, the symptoms can usually be significantly reduced with adequate therapy. Only in rare cases it is not possible to get the symptoms of schizophrenia under control. It must also be mentioned that up to 30% of all supposedly cured patients experience a relapse of symptoms in the course of their life.

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Read more on the topic: Symptoms of Schizophrenia or What is Schizophrenic Psychosis?

The therapy used usually consists of a combination of drug therapy with antipsychotics (formerly neuroleptics) and psychotherapy. The drugs used have the greatest effect on the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations or delusions. The effect on the negative symptoms is usually reduced, which is why they can usually last for a longer time. In addition to the classic antipsychotics such as haloperidol, there are now also atypical antipsychotics, which usually have a smaller spectrum of side effects.

Further information on this topic can be found at: Schizophrenia - These Drugs Are Used!
Read more on the topic: Risperidone or Haldol

If schizophrenia could be cured with appropriate therapy, the next important goal is the prophylaxis of a relapse. In addition to continuing to take medication, but now in lower doses, external influences play a decisive role in this. This includes creating a social environment with clear structures, avoiding excessive stress and sufficient leisure activities. These three factors are one of a long list of positive factors that could be identified with a better prognosis for primary schizophrenia.

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These also include a high level of education, an inconspicuous personality before the illness, the sudden onset of symptoms, and an early start of drug therapy. In addition, women have a slightly higher cure rate than men.

Read more on the topic: Personality disorder

Although only every fifth to third patient can speak of a cure, the spectrum and severity of symptoms can be significantly reduced even if there is no cure.

If symptoms persist despite therapy, a schizophrenic residue may be present. Read more on this topic at: What is a schizophrenic residual?

How is the course

The course of schizophrenia is divided into three different episodes in order to gain a better understanding of the course. However, this can be very individual for each patient and take place at different speeds.

The first symptoms that show up in the context of schizophrenia are called the preliminary phase, too Prodromal phase, assigned. The spectrum of symptoms in this phase usually includes a loss of interest, emotional instability and general tension. Usually, the onset of the first delusions is followed by a social withdrawal of those affected.

Read more on the topic: Signs of depression

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As a result, the symptoms usually continue to increase and the phase of the so-called acute attack is reached. At this stage, the positive symptoms, such as hallucinations, usually come to full expression. Paranoia is often part of the spectrum of symptoms. At this time, the disease is most often diagnosed. In this phase, patients show a significantly increased risk of suicide. As the name suggests, the phase of the acute episode is usually only relatively short.

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Read more on the topic: psychosis

This is followed by a slight flattening of the symptoms in the transition to the chronic phase. However, even after the acute attack, the disease can almost completely subside. This is the case for around 25% of those affected. In the case of chronification, in addition to acute phases, the focus is usually on negative symptoms with loss of interest, fatigue, lack of emotion and lack of drive. About 25-30% of all patients have lifelong symptoms of schizophrenia.

It must be emphasized that the different phases can vary in length and intensity for each patient. It is also possible to remain in a phase.

Read more on the topic:

  • Symptoms of schizophrenia
  • Schizophrenia in children
  • How can you test for schizophrenia?

What is the long-term prognosis?

The long-term prognosis for schizophrenia is generally considered to be mixed. Although up to a third of all patients can be cured of the symptoms of schizophrenia, they can still feel the effects of the disease after many years. These include a significantly lower ability to work, a reduction in memory functions and social skills as a result of the disease.

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In addition, there is always the risk of relapse. The consistent continuation of a drug therapy can drastically reduce the risk from 85% to 15%.

Another prognostic factor is the exact form of schizophrenia. Patients suffering from paranoid schizophrenia with paranoia have the best prognosis of all schizophrenia patients. However, if the psychosis remains untreated for a long time, a significantly worse development can be assumed. This includes social isolation, lower chances of recovery, and a higher risk of developing addiction.

What is the current state of science?

The state of science on the disease of schizophrenia is very mixed. There are areas that have now been very well researched, such as forecast parameters. In researching the exact origin of the disease, however, there is still no goal in sight. It is now understood that it is a multifactorial development, but it is unclear which factors play a role and to what extent.

However, the focus of the basic research is currently on the genetic basis of the disease, as this is ascribed the greatest influence. However, clearly defined mutations that lead to schizophrenia have not yet been identified. It should be mentioned here that schizophrenia does not assume a direct connection between genetic change and the occurrence of a disease, as is the case with other diseases such as trisomy 21. Rather, the current consensus is that many different mutations can lead to an increased susceptibility to the development of schizophrenia. However, further external factors such as stress are required for the development to ultimately lead to an outbreak of disease. In terms of genetic changes, one speaks only of an increase in risk.

Read more on the topic: How can you reduce stress

With the exception of the introduction of atypical antipsychotics, there has been only limited progress in therapy in recent years. However, this is also due to the not yet understood development of the disease, as no more precise starting points for a new therapy are known.

It can thus be summarized that there has been progress in research into schizophrenia in recent years, but that a comprehensive understanding of the disease is still a long way off.

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