Many of us have misconceptions about schizophrenia, and I was surprised how much I didn’t know once I started to research this condition. It turns out that schizophrenia is fairly common, and it can often be managed with the proper medical supervision and lifestyle changes. Here’s what you need to know about preventing and dealing with schizophrenia:
More than 1% of adults have schizophrenia
Before learning about schizophrenia, I was under the impression that it was very rare condition. It turns out that 1.1% of people over 18 have schizophrenia, which means over 2.2 million people in the United States alone. Schizophrenia is twice as prevalent as Alzheimer’s disease and six times as prevalent as insulin dependent diabetes. It’s likely that we all know or have at least met someone with schizophrenia.
Low omega 3 levels are associated with schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia have been shown to have lower than average levels of omega 3 than average. There is some speculation that getting enough omega 3 fatty acids can be key to preventing schizophrenia. One study showed that teens and young adults at risk for schizophrenia benefited from taking fish oil supplements. If you believe you are at risk for schizophrenia, talk to your doctor about how to get more omega 3 either via supplements or via diet.
Stress can be a trigger
There is a large genetic component to schizophrenia, but not everyone who is genetically at risk develops schizophrenia. Research seems to suggest that stress can both trigger and worsen schizophrenia. In particular, those who have had childhood traumas are at higher risk for developing schizophrenia. For patients that already have developed schizophrenia, stress can worsen psychosis.
Exercise can help
While exercise is not a cure for schizophrenia, it can help alleviate symptoms. Studies show that regular exercise such as jogging, yoga, and strength training can reduce negative symptoms. Those who exercised regularly suffered from less depression and social withdrawal. Schizophrenics tend to be quite socially isolated, which tends to exacerbate their symptoms. By getting out and exercising, they are able to connect with the world in a healthy and positive way.
Meditation may help
Many high functioning schizophrenics report that meditation has helped them reduce negative symptoms, including psychosis and depression. Some medical professionals theorize that by increasing neuroplasticity, meditation enables the brain to better deal with runaway thoughts and paranoia. While there is no proof that meditation actually helps schizophrenia yet, plenty of anecdotes exist and studies are getting underway.