Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders are very severe mental health conditions, with Schizophrenia and Schizoaffective Disorder particularly difficult to live with.

Life expectancy, suicide rates, employment and lifestyle are areas that are hugely affected by a diagnosis of one of these conditions.

Accessing treatment is crucial, and recovery is possible. The aim is normally to ensure that an individual’s symptoms can be controlled to the point where they can enjoy their life. Here, we take a look at the prognosis of these conditions.

Many people use medicine as part of their treatment

What is the Schizophrenic Spectrum?

Schizophrenic Spectrum: The Schizophrenic Spectrum consists of a few different conditions that are characterised by a range of symptoms. These symptoms normally revolve around a difficulty in understanding reality due to changes in the way someone thinks, feels, or acts. These conditions usually involve a breakdown in the connection between thoughts, emotions and behaviour – often resulting in psychotic symptoms. Treatment is available, and can result in an improvement in quality of life.

A lifelong burden

Understandably, given the severity of the symptoms of schizophrenic spectrum disorders, the prognosis can appear bleak.

For example, Schizophrenia is often associated with counter-productive traits like smoking, obesity and poor exercise. This, along with high suicide rates (which will be covered later) result in a decreased life expectancy versus the general public, with one study suggesting this could be as much as 15 years [1].

These conditions often last for life. Moreover, as discussed above, these conditions – especially Schizophrenia – is associated with suicide.

A 2005 study found that the suicide rate is higher in those with Schizophrenia than the general public [2]. The rate was around 5%.

However, many with Schizophrenia attempt suicide, and the actual rate may be significantly higher. Because some symptoms appear to get worse over time, suicide may unfortunately become likelier as the years go by.

Other factors affecting the prognosis

Another area that may affect the prognosis is if an individual becomes violent. Unfortunately, the media depicts people with Schizophrenia as an out-of-control, violent person with no feelings for others. This is incorrect.

However, violence is possible with these conditions, and may cause an individual with the condition to get themselves in physical alterations. Those with alcohol-related problems may be specifically at risk of being violent.

It is important to state however that those with a schizophrenic spectrum disorder are often the victims of crime, and can be taken advantage of due to their condition.

Other areas that effect the diagnosis of these conditions concerns employment and general lifestyle. People with these conditions will often find their symptoms inhibit them from gaining work, and that employers may stigmatise them.

Lifestyle factors that are affected can include an individual struggling to maintain friends, keep ties close with family members, and the interruption of academia.

Something that appears to be key in the overall outcome of any psychosis-related condition is accessing treatment early. Those that are able to access treatment earlier stand a better chance of recovery.

This will make it likelier that symptoms won’t exacerbate over time. Accessing treatment early helps the prognosis of any mental health condition.   

The positives

But many people find that Schizophrenia doesn’t affect them in an overbearing manner. Famous cases include that of John Nash – one of the best mathematicians in the world.

Moreover, musicians like Peter Green and Syd Barrett were able to have successful careers despite their diagnosis. While famous individuals tend to get the focus, there are many, many cases around the world where people with Schizophrenia are able to keep the symptoms from affecting them.

Even better than the above, some people are able to recover fully from Schizophrenia. While this may be more common in Schizophreniform Disorder (less than six months of symptoms), it is also possible in Schizophrenia.

Some people will find with effective treatment, that they gain total remission from symptoms. Characteristics like being female, exhibiting more positive than negative symptoms, and older age of maiden psychotic episode, appear to be conducive towards a better prognosis, and possible recovery [3].

In any case, most people with a schizophrenic spectrum disorder are able to live independently, and control their symptoms. Medication can help with this, as well as the individual having a strong support system around them, and regular check-ups with a health professional. Some people can function well, hold down regular jobs, and even start a family [4].

Possible remission

Interestingly, past research has found that Schizoaffective Disorder may actually have better remission rates than those seen with Schizophrenia [5].

One study suggested 54.5% of individuals with Schizoaffective Disorder achieve remission – as opposed to 43.5% of those with Schizophrenia [5]. Unfortunately though, this doesn’t take into account relapse rates – which are typically high in both.

Medication

As alluded to above, medication is a crucial element in the treatment of these conditions. Atypical antipsychotics are primarily used, and often lead to symptoms being controlled more.

There are many different types of antipsychotics that can be tried, in the event of a poor response to a first intervention. Generally, a combination of medication and a talking therapy can prove useful.

In cases of Schizoaffective Disorder, if there are some symptoms of mania, then mood stabilisers may be used.

In severe cases, Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) may provide relief. While this may be seen as barbaric, ECT has come a long way in recent times, and has the potential to be an effective treatment.

Summary

Overall, the prognosis for schizophrenic spectrum disorders may appear bleak at first, but many find that symptoms can be controlled in a way that means the diagnosis doesn’t lead to their life being affected acutely.

In the most positive cases, full recovery is possible. But, despite these cases, there is no getting away from the fact that these conditions are very serious.

In any case, accessing treatment is important, with an individual hopefully able to find a treatment plan that helps them.

See Also

  1. Schizophrenic Spectrum: Everything You Need to Know
  2. What Are The Different Types of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  3. What Are The Symptoms of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  4. What Are The Causes of Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
  5. How are Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders Diagnosed?
  6. How Can Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders be Treated?
  7. What is the Prognosis for Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders??
  8. 10 Tips for Living With Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders?
Disclaimer

This website should be used purely for informational purposes, and does not intend to, nor should it ever, be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.

We strive to keep all of our pages updated, and ensure that our website is full of factual and in-depth information. However, we encourage you to browse this website with care.

As a reminder, this website and all content within it cannot and should not replace the advice of a trained medical professional. You can read our full disclaimer at this link.

Helplines

If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.

References

[1]         van Os, J., & Kapur, S. (2009). Schizophrenia. The Lancet. 374 (9690): p635-645. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60995-8.

[2]         Palmer, B. A., Pankratz, S., & Bostwick, J. M. (2005). The Lifetime Risk of Suicide in Schizophrenia.  JAMA Psychiatry. 62 (3): p247-253. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.62.3.247.

[3]         Davidson, L., & McGlashan, T. H. (1997). The varied outcomes of schizophrenia. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 42 (1): p34-43. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/070674379704200105.

[4]         Helman, D. S. (2016). Schizophrenia Is Normal: My Journey Through Diagnosis, Treatment, and Recovery. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 42 (6): p1309-1311. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/schbul/sbu131.

[5]         Pinna, F., Sanna, L., Perra, V., Pisu Randaccio, R., Diana, E., Carpiniello, B. (2014). Long-term outcome of schizoaffective disorder. Are there any differences with respect to schizophrenia?. Rivista di Psichiatria. 49 (1): p9-41. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1708/1407.15624.