The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that schizophrenia affects 1.1% of the population in any given year, which equates to approximately 2.4 million Americans. Considering the large number of individuals who suffer from this disorder, there has been a lot of research into finding opportunities for treating and combating this illness.
There are many reasons why people choose to participate in clinical trials. Some of the benefits may include:
- Better access to new treatments before they become widely available.
- Eligibility for health insurance and compensation for participating in the trial.
- Additional medical exams that monitor your condition during the trial period.
- Free treatment.
- Helping others by contributing to medical research.
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic brain disorder that affects about 1% of the population. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
The causes are not completely understood, but it is believed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Schizophrenia affects men and women equally and is found in all ethnic groups around the world.
The key to knowing if you are suffering from schizophrenia is understanding the symptoms.
- Hallucinations—hearing voices or seeing things that aren’t there
- Delusions—strong beliefs that aren’t based on reality (e.g. someone is out to get you)
- Disorganized thinking and speech—struggling to focus, jumping from one idea to another, using words in unusual ways, or stopping mid-sentence like you “lost your train of thought”
- Negative symptoms—loss of motivation; lacking emotions, pleasure, or interest in life
Unfortunately, there is no cure for schizophrenia. However, the symptoms can be managed through various treatments and therapies.
Antipsychotic medications are the best way to control or lessen symptoms of schizophrenia and may prevent a relapse if you are prone to frequent episodes. These medications work by reducing excessive activity in dopamine-related pathways of the brain. As with many other conditions, they don’t work for everyone, but they greatly improve the lives of many people living with schizophrenia.
Cognitive behavioral therapy teaches people how to identify and change their negative thoughts and behaviors related to the illness and helps them cope more effectively with stressful situations that could trigger an episode. This type of therapy focuses on learning new skills so that people become more self-reliant and independent when managing their condition.
Psychosocial treatments also involve addressing stressors that may cause relapses, but they combine this approach with practical support in everyday life, such as help finding housing or dealing with interpersonal conflicts or severe financial problems that could lead to a setback. These types of supportive psychotherapies have been shown to reduce relapses by up to 30%.
Is there a cure for Schizophrenia?
People with schizophrenia often have to take antipsychotic medications every day to ease their symptoms. These medicines must be taken even after a person starts feeling better, because stopping them can cause the symptoms to return.
This poses a challenge for people with schizophrenia, who can sometimes feel that they are cured. There is no cure for schizophrenia, however, so it is important to take medication regularly in order to manage the disease and prevent future episodes.
Even though these medications can be very helpful for managing the condition, it’s not always easy to convince someone with schizophrenia that they need treatment. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with this condition, you may find yourself in a challenging situation when trying to help them accept help from others or take their medications as instructed.
Why participate in a clinical trial for Schizophrenia?
Participating in a clinical trial is an important personal decision, and it’s one that you should make with the guidance of your healthcare provider. You might consider joining a clinical trial because of its potential benefits to yourself and others.
- Access to new treatments: You may have access to experimental therapies or medications before they are widely available.
- Be part of something big: Your participation may help researchers find new treatments for others who have this condition in the future.