Prevention

At this point in time, there is known way to prevent schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder, the cause of which is not yet known. Research over the years suggests that schizophrenia is likely due to a combination of genetics, complications during pregnancy and birth, various environmental factors, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Without knowing the cause, it is next to impossible to prevent the development of any disorder.

Recent research

Recent studies, however, have provided hope that some things may help prevent the development of schizophrenia is high risk or predisposed individuals. One of the most recent studies done on rats suggested that schizophrenia may actually be prevented with early intervention. Treatment with a low dose of medication early on may actually stop the beginning stages of deterioration in the brain in high risk adolescents 1.

Another very recent study suggests that fish oil may help thwart the development of psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia 2. According to the study, which focused on young adults who were considered high risk for the disorder, the supplements needed to be taken for only 12 weeks.

Practical suggestions to lower risk

Some practical suggestions to lower the risk of developing schizophrenia (or any psychiatric disorder for that matter), based on suspected causes include:

For parents or expecting mothers-
Focus on good nutrition and overall health when pregnant
Create and maintain a positive and loving home environment
Help your child develop good social skills and coping skills
Be aware of any changes in your child’s behavior or functioning; seek professional help early on for any mental health issues
For children and adolescents -
Avoid the use of illicit drugs and limit or avoid alcohol
Learn effective ways to cope with stress and negative feelings
Stay actively involved with friends and family – don’t withdraw
Talk to a counselor or other professional when needed

Hopefully research will eventually determine the cause of schizophrenia so that every possible measure can be taken to prevent the development of the disorder. While it may still develop at times even then, finding ways to decrease its prevalence as much as possible would make a huge difference in millions of lives.

written by Dr. Cheryl Lane, PsyD

References

  1. Early Intervention Could Prevent Schizophrenia
  2. Fish oil pills show promise in preventing schizophrenia

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What does schizophrenic mean?

Signs of Schizophrenia in Young Adults