Getting Better

Schizophrenia can affect a person's lifestyle, including their social and financial position, in a variety of ways.

The psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia and the disruption they can cause to an individual's daily life are obvious, but often their physical health can also be affected. The goals of treatment and recovery are to reduce or stop symptoms to enable the individual to engage in daily activities and reduce the number of relapses.1,9 With the help of antipsychotic medication and other therapies, the symptoms of schizophrenia can often be managed to an extent that will allow people with schizophrenia to return to their daily activities.1,9 There are many steps that people with schizophrenia can take to help improve their overall well-being.

Physical health and well-being

People who experience schizophrenia may suffer consequences in the form of lifestyle changes, such as higher levels of smoking, which can lead to serious physical health complications including cardiovascular difficulties, respiratory disease and a general increase in infections. These problems may be made worse if the person consumes high levels of alcohol, is involved in illegal drug use, has a poor diet, takes little exercise, has poor self-care and personal hygiene, and poor quality accommodation. The changes to lifestyle and the side-effects of medication can lead to people with schizophrenia gaining weight, resulting in problems associated with obesity.

Obesity itself can have a major impact on physical health, such as an increased risk of heart disease or diabetes. Therefore, it is recommended that someone with schizophrenia should have an annual physical check up. They may also need support from a dietician, drug and alcohol services, chiropody, dentistry and other general health-promotion information.

Through good health and social care support it is possible for the physical risks associated with schizophrenia, including the side-effects of treatments and lifestyle changes, to be reduced.