The Path And Process Of Schizophrenia Recovery

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Most people learn about schizophrenia through movies, books, and stories they hear. The problem is that learning about what it means to have schizophrenia in these ways can often leave one with a sensationalized view of the disorder.

While it is true that there is no known cure for schizophrenia, the ability for one to recover and rejoin society and their social circles as a fully functioning individual is entirely possible.

The path and process of schizophrenia recovery can be long and difficult, but with the proper help and guidance from doctors and counselors, it is a path you do not have to walk alone.

Here, we take a quick look at the basics of schizophrenia and how effective recovery methods are to help you understand the symptoms of schizophrenia and the steps to take toward maintenance and recovery.

Schizophrenia affects the entire family

The basics of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic disease that currently requires lifelong treatment. Research is ongoing, and recent discoveries have shed new light on how schizophrenia affects one's mind. There are various manifestations of schizophrenia, though they all affect a person's ability to control emotion and reason on some level. Without the proper guidance and medication, those with schizophrenia may suffer at work, school, and in relationships, and their symptoms can worsen over time.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that causes people to perceive reality abnormally. It can result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking. 

Symptoms of schizophrenia may improve or worsen only to improve again. These cycles are referred to as relapses and remissions. Periods in which one becomes confused, delusional, or exhibits disturbing behavior are known as episodes. The severity and frequency of these episodes, as well as the general mental health of the person with schizophrenia between episodes, will vary drastically from one person to another.

The causes of schizophrenia may be a complex combination of genetic factors, traumatic events, stress levels, and health choices. While a family history of schizophrenia is often a good indicator of risk, those with no known history may also receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

Understanding symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia affects the emotional and mental state of the individual and regularly causes incredible friction in relationships and one's ability to be generally extroverted and friendly. By understanding that these emotional outbursts and actions are likely symptoms of schizophrenia, people with the condition can take steps to mitigate the ramifications. Social circles and emotional control are essential to proper recovery.

The National Institute of Mental Health groups symptoms of schizophrenia by positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms:

Positive psychotic symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, feelings of paranoia, and a dramatic change in behavior and thought. Generally speaking, these are defined as "odd or unusual feelings" and can sometimes be found in people with PTSD as well. Some of the most common positive psychotic symptoms reported include believing they were being followed or spied upon and seeing things others could not see. Positive psychotic symptoms are more common in those with past trauma, such as witnessing a natural disaster or seeing someone seriously injured or killed.

Negative symptoms include social withdrawal and pushing away from social circles. A lack of motivation can occur, as well as lethargy. Emotional outbursts and antisocial behaviors are included here. These symptoms are generally characterized as the loss or absence of experience. Apathy and poverty of speech are also described as negative symptoms. The poverty of speech includes one-word answers and insufficient speech to convey an idea, and it may be a form of catatonia (mutism).

Negative symptoms seem more resilient than positive symptoms, remaining when the latter has receded. Sometimes, negative symptoms may appear months or weeks before positive symptoms. In this case, they are referred to as "prodromal" symptoms.

Cognitive symptoms cause one to show a disrupted ability to reason or form coherent thoughts. These symptoms cause things like confusing someone's identity, impaired judgment, general confusion, or a loss of motor control. From the outside, these symptoms may not make sense to others.

Cognitive symptoms can be scary and create a sensation of being out of control of one’s own body. A loss of cognitive function may correlate with an increased rate of drug dependency to regain some control over their minds.

Treatment and management of schizophrenia

There have been considerable improvements in managing and understanding schizophrenia in the last decade. New science has given us insights into the causes and makeup of schizophrenia, while continuous research has allowed for the development of more effective treatment methods and counseling strategies.

In the end, It is estimated that roughly half of the people with schizophrenia can recover and suffer no relapses with proper medication, achieving functional remission. In contrast, only 20% of those without proper treatment are likely to avoid relapse. Between relapses, over half of those diagnosed with schizophrenia can live relatively typical and healthy lives. 

Some experts say achieving complete remission isn't a great metric for gauging realistic recovery. Many more people with schizophrenia have recovered if the metric for recovery is where they can function happily in social situations and be effective constituents of society.

What you can do

The first thing you can do if you think you or a loved one may have schizophrenia is to seek an expert's opinion. Once you have a clear and accurate diagnosis of schizophrenia, your doctor can establish a treatment plan. Getting treatment early may result in better outcomes.

Different symptoms and triggers will often warrant different medications and methods of counseling. With that said, some steps can be universally helpful. Healthy living and abstaining from drugs and alcohol may significantly enhance one's chances of recovery.

Try to sleep as regularly as possible

Stress, medication, and many other factors can coincide with disrupting your sleep when you have schizophrenia. Sleep is vital to keeping yourself healthy in both body and mind, so try to get as much of it as possible. At the same time, lethargy and depression can also feed into and stem from too much sleep. Stick to regular sleeping hours as much as possible.

Stay away from drugs and alcohol

Drugs and alcohol are strongly associated with worsening conditions for those with schizophrenia and relapses. The damage and stress these strong chemicals put on your body exacerbate symptoms and can trigger an incident. Drugs and alcohol are cited as one of the biggest reasons treatment fails.

Stay social

Socialization, empathy, and general human interaction can become more complicated, confusing, or frustrating for people with schizophrenia. Detecting emotions from voice tone and facial expression can become awkward. These are some reasons researchers theorize that patients tend to isolate.

However, socializing is incredibly essential for our mental health. Everyone must try to keep in contact with friends and family and be a part of a broader community in some way, not just people with schizophrenia. 

If you know someone with schizophrenia or are beginning to notice potential symptoms of schizophrenia in someone about whom you care, speak to a medical professional.

Schizophrenia affects the entire family

Get support

While there is still no cure for schizophrenia, there is a path to recovery. With tailored medical treatments and therapists, today's world offers more options than ever for people with schizophrenia to handle things their way.

Remember, you are not alone in any of this. If you or someone you love may be experiencing the onset of schizophrenia, reach out and find help now. The faster you get help, the better the outlook.

If you have a loved one with schizophrenia, a licensed counselor can help you determine safe next steps and explain how you can be a part of their support system. Online therapy is available anywhere you have an internet connection, including the comfort of your home. This flexibility could be especially helpful if you're caring for someone living with schizophrenia.

Research shows that online therapy is effective for treating multiple mental health conditions. For example, one review found that online CBT may be more effective than face-to-face counseling for depression. 


The path and process of schizophrenia recovery are challenging, but it is possible to regain a happy, productive life with the right treatment and support. If someone you love is dealing with schizophrenia recovery, online therapy can help you figure out how to best support them while also caring for your own mental health needs.
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