Complications of schizophrenia include social isolation, high rates of unemployment and an increased risk of suicide. Learn how treatment of schizophrenia can also cause serious side effects.
Social Complications of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia carries a heavy social stigma. People may react to symptoms of schizophrenia with fear, distrust and revulsion, mostly due to a lack of understanding about the disorder. The onset of schizophrenia symptoms can potentially destroy friendships and increase the risk of family conflicts.
Symptoms of schizophrenia often cause people to withdraw from social interaction, resulting in isolation that makes successful treatment of schizophrenia difficult. This situation is only worsened by the negative response so many people have to schizophrenia symptoms.
An increased risk of violent crime is one of the social complications of schizophrenia. Unfortunately, some people are quite willing to bully, insult or assault individuals exhibiting symptoms of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia Complications: Unemployment and Poverty
Unemployment rates are very high among people with schizophrenia. Symptoms of schizophrenia make it difficult for individuals to function in daily life, let alone work. Even with effective treatment of schizophrenia, people continue to exhibit behavior that others consider odd. Employers are often unwilling to give these individuals a chance.
Unemployment can result in poverty and homelessness. Delusions and hallucinations may drive people away from their homes and onto the street. Once homeless, schizophrenics are very unlikely to receive the help they need, and even more likely to be the victims of violent crime.
Smoking and Substance Abuse in Schizophrenia
Health Central (2007) reports that up to 88 percent of schizophrenics smoke. Since nicotine appears to reduce psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, smoking may be an attempt to self-medicate.
Smoking, of course, is hardly a safe treatment of schizophrenia. A host of medical risks accompany smoking, including increased rates of lung cancer and heart disease.
Mental Disorders and Schizophrenia
Mental complications of schizophrenia include an increased risk of depression. Untreated depression and the simple stress of living with schizophrenia increase the risk of suicide.
Suicide is one of the most serious and all too common complications of schizophrenia. According to the Mayo Clinic (2010), up to 30 percent of people experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia attempt suicide at least once.
Sadly, completed suicide is very common among schizophrenics. The Mayo Clinic (2010) estimates that 10 percent of people with schizophrenia eventually commit suicide.
Treatment of Schizophrenia Side Effects
Treatment of schizophrenia can cause serious side effects. Complications of schizophrenia treatment include abnormal muscle movements and loss of emotion. Antipsychotic medication can also cause a rare condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome, which may result in:
- High blood pressure
- High body temperature
- Muscle rigidity.
In rare cases, neuroleptic malignant syndrome can cause comas.
American Academy of Family Physicians. (2010). Schizophrenia. Retrieved July 13, 2010, from http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/common/mentalhealth/treatment/266.html
Health Central. (2007). Complications. Retrieved July 8, 2010, from http://www.healthcentral.com/schizophrenia/causes-000047_5-145.html
Mayo Clinic. (2010). Schizophrenia. Retrieved July 8, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/schizophrenia/DS00196
National Health Service. (2009). Complications of schizophrenia. Retrieved July 8, 2010, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Schizophrenia/Pages/Complications.aspx