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Ways to Prevent Schizophrenia

Posted By: Judith Moss on September 25, 2011 at 8:14 am

Prevention is the best medicine. However, how can you prevent something when you are not sure how or why it happens? Schizophrenia is an especially debilitating disease that affects one percent of the world’s population. Although this is a small number, the disease is very serious and has no cure. There are treatments for schizophrenia, but it is hard to control. Being able to prevent the disease would be ideal, but is that actually possible?

There are many things known about schizophrenia and how it manifests in most people. The symptoms of the disease often first appear during a person’s late teens or early twenties. Usually the first onset of the disease is tied to separation, leaving your parents home and starting your own life. This can be especially traumatic for some people. People who suffer from schizophrenia often hear voices; have hallucinations, and delusional beliefs. A person with schizophrenia might believe there are subliminal messages in a TV show that are just for them to hear or see. Needless to say, someone who suffers from this disease often suffers an intense social isolation.

The chance of someone developing schizophrenia if there is no history in the family is only one percent. However, if you do have someone in your family that has schizophrenia, your chances increase. The closer you are directly related, such as parent or sibling, the higher the probability. If you have a sibling with schizophrenia, your chance increases to five percent, and with a parent, the chance doubles to ten percent. The highest correlation is with identical twins. If your identical twin suffers from schizophrenia, you have a fifty/fifty chance of having the disease.

It is well established that a person’s genes play a large part in whether or not that person will develop schizophrenia. However, most people who develop the disease have no known relatives with it. If we think about the identical twin with a fifty-fifty chance of getting the disease, it is easy to see that environmental factors also play a large role in determining who gets the disease. If a person has some of the genes associated with schizophrenia, it is believed only if that person is exposed to certain environment and stresses, that the genes become active and possibly trigger schizophrenia. Although no one yet knows any real, concrete ways to prevent the onset of schizophrenia, there are lots of things to lowers your chances of schizophrenia. Depending on the age of the patient, there are numerous things that could be done to prevent schizophrenia.

Any woman of child bearing age should always be conscious of the possibility of getting pregnant. With this in mind, try and plan your pregnancy. Wanting the child and being ready for him or her will make the pregnancy much easier. Also, try to begin taking prenatal vitamins a few months before becoming pregnant and be sure to have prenatal visits with your doctor. Another good tip is to avoid all alcohol and lead exposure. Finally, do your best to avoid stress and depression. Everyone suffers from these two eventually, but it is how you handle them that determines their affect on your body and the body of your unborn child.

If you already have a child, there are other actions you can take to help minimize their chance of developing schizophrenia. During the first year of life, be sure to hold your baby as often as you can. It is important for the baby to experience at least four hours of human touch a day. Also, as with adults, try to limit your child’s exposure to stress. Try to teach your child a positive outlook on life. Finally, although this is sometimes impossible to do, minimize the risk of traumatic events in a child’s life. Childhood trauma is believed to be a precursor to mental illness.

One of the toughest times of life, adolescence, is also when symptoms of schizophrenia first start to emerge. However, there are suggestions to help protect your teenager. The first is to avoid all recreational drugs. These drugs make changes in the brain that could be a trigger for the disease. However, the most important idea is to avoid social isolation. Be sure to help equip your teenager with good social skills and a strong set of friends. If you notice that they are struggling in their teenage years, be sure to get them the help they need by contacting a psychiatrist or psychologist.

Complete prevention of schizophrenia is something that may be possible in the future. For now, doctors and scientists are trying to come up with the reasons why and how people develop the disease. There are steps you can take to lower your chance of getting schizophrenia. Further research will unlock the secrets of this disease and hopefully show us a way to get rid of it, or better yet, prevent it from happening at all.

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