The last decade of research in schizophrenia has revealed that schizophrenia appears to be caused by a combination of genetic, environmental and psychological factors. For individuals with no family history of schizophrenia, there is only a 1% chance of developing the disease in their lifetime. The risk increases to 3% for individuals with a family history of schizophrenia. Although the exact cause of schizophrenia is still undetermined, there are a number of preventative measures that can be taken to lower risk for developing the disease.
Approaches to Preventing Schizophrenia
There are currently two approaches to preventing schizophrenia being researched. One is to take measures of preventing the development of the disease, and the other is taking preventative measures during the Prodromal—or beginning--phase of schizophrenia. The prodromal phase is the year prior to the development of the disease, so it’s important to take preventative measures now.
Relationship and Family
Being involved in healthy, low-stress relationships and having strong family bonds help to prevent schizophrenia. It’s important to screen potential partners and marry someone who is consistent and stable. Compatibility is critical. Finding healthy ways to resolve conflict, learning healthy relationship skills and caring for your own mental health is important to maintaining well-being. Avoid seeking a romantic partner that has substance-abuse and other serious issues.
Certain lifestyle choices are also important in the prevention of schizophrenia. Avoid illicit street drugs, alcohol and consume only prescription medications that are prescribed by a professional. Sharpening social skills, dealing with stress and anxiety in healthfully, and treating other mental illness is imperative. Try to think of the positive aspects in most situations, and develop effective coping skills. Develop friendships with individuals that you trust and enjoy spending time with and avoid those that cause stress and hardship.
Schizophrenia and Pregnancy
Women who are pregnant or considering becoming pregnant can take measures to prevent schizophrenia in their children. Taking multivitamins, having existing STD’s treated, avoiding alcohol or other harmful substances and maintaining a healthy weight during pregnancy are all best practices for pregnant mothers. Women should try to have children when they are younger, because risks of pregnancy complications increase after the age of 35.
During pregnancy, it’s important to get enough exercise, and every effort should be made to carry a pregnancy full-term. Rather than having one child immediately after another, try waiting at least 27 months before becoming pregnant again. Pregnant women should avoid situations and events that cause stress and anxiety, and if an expectant mother becomes depressed or experiences other mental illness during the pregnancy, she should seek treatment from a professional.
Although there is no guarantee that schizophrenia will not develop even with preventative tactics, it is still best to make good lifestyle choices. Schizophrenia negatively impacts every area of your life, and any attempt to try to prevent it is worthwhile.
Sources: Health, Schizophrenia