Is Schizophrenia Curable? Finding Solutions In The Modern Age

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The possibility that you or a loved one may have schizophrenia can be a scary and overwhelming experience. While many stories and half-truths abound about the nature of schizophrenia, the reality is much more complicated and hopeful than what you have likely heard.

Caring for someone with schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic condition requiring lifelong treatment in one form or another. Currently, there is no cure for the condition. However, countless studies and professional observations have demonstrated that healthy living and proper maintenance can allow one to live a long, happy, and relatively typical life with the disorder.

In addition to the time-tested treatments for schizophrenia, new science is beginning to show that there may be more methods to combat the illness. More effective medications with fewer side effects, more robust and effective counseling methods, and even genetic sequencing may all play a role in helping those with schizophrenia live better than ever before.

Today we will take a brief look at how doctors and scientists are improving the treatment methods for schizophrenia and how genome sequencing may unlock a doorway to new treatments.

Current schizophrenia research

Researchers have come to a consensus over the years that schizophrenia’s appearance is likely due to a complex combination of genetics and environmental factors. Schizophrenia can run in families, but it can also manifest in people with no known familial history of the disorder. Scientists believe that particular genes or some combination of genes that cause schizophrenia may lay dormant and can be triggered by stressful situations, drug usage, extreme social isolation, and other environmental issues.

Researchers have been using advanced technological means to figure out the complex brain chemistry that triggers schizophrenia. Genetic studies, advanced computer imaging, and more in-depth behavioral studies have all given experts a better understanding of what we can do to combat this disorder.

Genome sequencing and schizophrenia

Some of the most promising science to come out recently has been the work done in the field of whole-genome sequencing. This research was financed by an international coalition, funded by Sweden’s SciLife Labs and the National Institute of Mental Health grants.

Over 2,000 people participated in the genome sequencing study, and researchers found mutations in the DNA related to schizophrenia that were previously unknown. Scientists looked at a three-dimensional genome structure, referred to as topologically associated domains (TADs). They found that disrupting these structures could allow interactions between genes that generally would not occur. Disrupted TADs occurred much more in people with schizophrenia.

This finding may help scientists better examine the disorder at the molecular level. More precise medicinal treatments that could repair disrupted TADs may even be possible. Some hope this may be a real path to a cure or, at the very least, better patient outcomes. Researchers may use this same method in the future to better understand the genetic manifestation of everything from anxiety disorders to bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and more.

A move toward more focused treatments

While genetic studies look promising, remarkable results have also been found in other areas of recovery. Doctors and psychiatrists have been stressing for a while now that a cure is not necessary for one to recover. Proper care from doctors and psychiatrists, as well as healthy living, has allowed thousands to function well in society. Many can gain employment, enjoy relationships with family and friends, and engage in daily life with little or no impairment. 

It has been difficult to figure out why treatments may work for some and not others. Using machine learning and brain imaging, researchers found that the gray matter in the brain of some who have schizophrenia can differ from the gray matter of others who are diagnosed with the same disorder. Insights like these will allow doctors to figure out optimal treatments to target the various forms of schizophrenia.

Diet changes for schizophrenia treatment

Several case studies suggest that a ketogenic diet may help alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia. The findings of this research are encouraging that a ketogenic diet may help with symptom control. In fact, it is possible that using certain diets as part of a treatment plan may have interesting effects on other mental health issues. Research persists for bipolar disorder, borderline personality, and more.

Current treatments and management techniques

While new research is promising, the current methods for managing schizophrenia still have considerable benefits. The proper medicines and counseling may help many people with schizophrenia live a life fully integrated into everyday work and social life.

If you believe you or a loved one may have schizophrenia, the first step is to seek an expert opinion. With a proper diagnosis, you can begin receiving the medication and counseling most likely to help you on the path to recovery.

Schizophrenia treatments are often customized to suit a patient and their needs. The medications and counseling required often depend on the triggers and symptoms exhibited by the person with schizophrenia. Getting specialized and professional help is necessary for those with schizophrenia due to the unique personal requirements for treatment.

What you can do today

It can be wise to seek the help of experts and get personalized advice before you do anything else. Talk with your doctors and counselors about the best treatment for you or your loved one.

With that said, there are some helpful strategies for promoting healthier living and potentially improving schizophrenia health outcomes. No matter what expert you talk to, they will strongly emphasize most (if not all) of the items on this list as part of your daily health routine.

Try to keep regular sleeping hours

Schizophrenia, and much of the stress associated with it, can often take a severe toll on your sleeping patterns. Medication can also disrupt your sleep. Triggers for schizophrenia may coincide with stressful and traumatic events, and a lack of sleep likely exacerbates these issues.

Sleep is essential for your mental health and physical well-being. It is impossible to overstress how important sleep is for controlling the rest of your physical and mental faculties.

Avoid drug usage

People with schizophrenia are often more prone to substance use. Unfortunately, drugs and alcohol have a very high chance of causing a relapse and interfering with medication.  One of the biggest causes of the failure of long-term treatment in those with schizophrenia is drug and alcohol usage. Chemical dependence often leads to a mental health spiral that exacerbates the effects of schizophrenia.

Continue to socialize

Schizophrenia tends to cause people to turn inward and pull away from friends and family. Socializing and keeping a support network are both incredibly important for mental health. Even just making sure you put aside time to talk to a counselor a few times a week can go a long way.

Caring for someone with schizophrenia?

Support for those affected by schizophrenia

If you know someone with schizophrenia or are starting to notice potential symptoms of schizophrenia in someone you are close to, it can be helpful to speak with a licensed mental health care professional. A licensed counselor can help you figure out how to be a part of their support system and can determine safe next steps. 

Online therapy has many benefits for caregivers or those who have busy schedules. You don’t have to worry about commuting to an office or being put on a waiting list. You can meet with your therapist from the comfort of your home, or anywhere you have an internet connection. With BetterHelp, you can reach out to your counselor anytime, 24/7, through text, phone call, instant message, or email, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can. 

Online therapy is effective for treating a range of conditions. One review found that online treatment led to a 50% improvement in a range of conditions, including anxiety and depression, and significantly decreased the impact of stress.  

Takeaway

Though schizophrenia is a lifelong mental disorder with no known cure, there is a chance for recovery. It may take time and the help of doctors, counselors, friends, and family, but the future can still be bright for those with schizophrenia. Researchers are continuing to grow in their understanding of schizophrenia through genetic research, brain studies, and more. If you are caring for someone with schizophrenia, online therapy can be a convenient way to connect with a counselor to help you support your loved one and care for yourself as well.
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