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Schizophrenia Information > Preventing Schizophrenia, Lowering Risk

Preventing Schizophrenia and Lowering Risk


Personal Schizoprenia Prevention and Risk Reduction Actions

Don't use street drugs, and moderate any use of alcohol. Street drugs have chemicals in them that are harmful to the teen brain. Significant alcohol consumption has also been shown to cause brain damage and potentially increased risk of psychosis and likely also schizophrenia. Moreover, a significant amount of research indicates that drugs and alcohol are even more risky (more likely to cause serious brain damage) for people who have a history of mental illness in their family. It is also notable that alcohol abuse is a stronger predictor of psychotic symptoms than regular cannabis use (by a factor of four)(source).

Unfortunately, many people who have mental health problems never get formally evaluated by a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist, and sometimes parents don't know about, or don't tell their children about mental illness that may be in their family (for example, they might just not talk about an uncle or cousin that was always a little strange or eccentric - when in fact the person was mentally ill) so just because you haven't heard of any mental illness in your family - doesn't mean that there wasn't any.

Recommended Reading:

Cannabis / Marijuana (and other street drugs) Have Been Linked to Significant Increases in a Person's Risk for Schizophrenia

Marijuana (Cannabis) Use Triples Schizophrenia Risk

Cannabis & Schizophrenia Interview

13% of schizophrenia caused by cannabis / marijuana use

Schizophrenia Genes and Cannabis

Scientists Show How Cannabis / Marijuana May Trigger Schizophrenia

Cannabis Chemical Studied as Schizophrenia Treatment

True Story of Cannabis / Marijuana induced Schizophrenia

Alcohol linked to brain shrinkage

Does cannabis use lead to mental-health problems?: findings from the research

more news on the link between schizophrenia and marijuana / cannabis


Make an ongoing effort to develop your social skills as much as you can and maintain at least a few close friendships that you can discuss issues with freely. If you have any tendencies towards shyness - make an extra effort to learn about social skills as is covered in the books listed below. Social skills are like any other skills; something that we all must learn about and practice to improve. Some parents are not very good at teaching social skills and so frequently children and young adults must make their own efforts to learn them. The area of "emotional intelligence" is a closely related area that researchers suggested is an important to enhance our knowledge and skills in. Following are some good resources and books that are designed to help you improve these skills:

How to Make Friends

How to Socialize, Be Funny and Make Friends

How to Make Friends at College

The Psychology of Relationships - our relationships have important effects on our psychological well-being

Recommended Books: These books should be available from your local libraries or bookstores.

The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships - By Dr. John M. Gottmann

Learn about emotional intelligence here. Read the book: Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, PHD

How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Feeling Good and The Feeling Good Handbook - By Dr. David Burns

10 Days to Great Self-esteem - Dr. David Burns

Intimate Connections by Dr. David Burns (for late teens and 20+ year olds)

Love Is Never Enough: How Couples Can Overcome Misunderstandings, Resolve Conflicts - By Dr. Aaron T. Beck


Avoid social isolation - don't spend too much time alone - try to get out and enjoy time with your friends every day or two, at least. If you go to college, live with roommates that you get along well with, don’t get too isolated.

Social isolation during childhood, teen years and early adulthood is associated with a higher risk of schizophrenia later in life

Social Exclusion Harms Decision Making and Learning Ability

Recommended Related Video: Social Anxiety Disorder

Make an ongoing effort to maintain friendships with adults who you trust and respect and who are compassionate helpful with any challenges you face. Many people grow up in families where children feel they are unable to talk with their parents. In these cases children may benefit by seeking out other adults and relatives that they feel that they can trust, and who are interested in helping, who they can seek help and advice from. These other adults may be good teachers, school counselors, or family relatives (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.).

Make an extra effort to learn positive perspectives on the world and situations you encounter. Make sure you understand that setbacks or problems you encounter in life are opportunities for growth and merely part of a normal life and a valuable learning experience. Problems or difficulties are not a statement or judgement about you personally - but simply an indication that you hadn't learned how to solve that given problem yet. With time and effort most problems can be understood and resolved.

Recommended Internet Software: MoodGym - For Prevention of Depression (Free) For this to be most effective, you must work through all the modules of the software.

Some very good "for-pay" internet software therapy for the treatment of depression and anxiety can be found here (Depression Relief) and here (Anxiety / Stress/ Worry Relief). Read more about the software here: Beating the Blues.

Web psychotherapy may be 'just as good' as face to face therapy, for some people (BBC) - its cheap to try online therapy, so you might try it first, and if it doesn't work for you, go to a psychologist.

Are We Who We Think We Are? (Newsweek)

Recommended Books: These books should be available from your local libraries.

Feeling Good and The Feeling Good Handbook - By Dr. David Burns

When Panic Attacks: The New Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life by Dr. David Burns

Overcoming Paranoid and Suspicious Thoughts

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success - By Dr. Carol Dweck, Stanford University

Listen to this good interview with Dr. Carol Dweck that explains why its important to avoid a "fixed mindset" and to instead to develop a "growth mindset" - so that you understand that setbacks and challenges in life are normal and merely learning experiences that prepare you for greater success in the future.

(Watch Video Below).



Make extra effort to learn how to deal with stress and anxiety / fear (and moderate exposure to such stresses) and get regular exercise.  When you do feel stress, depression or sadness, fear or anxiety (high levels of worry, fear, or perfectionism) – discuss the issues with close friends or family members, and read the books listed below to learn the skills that will allow you to reduce the worries, fear and anxiety so as to have a positive outlook on life. Also, be sure to get regular excercise (30 minutes of vigorous excercise three to five times a week).

Exercise Is a State of Mind - Researchers are learning more about how physical activity affects our moods. (MSNBC)

Exercise Stimulates The Formation Of New Brain Cells

Recommended books which may be available from your local libraries.

When Panic Attacks: The New Anxiety Therapy That Can Change Your Life by Dr. David Burns

Mind Over Mood: Change How You Feel by Changing the Way You Think

Feeling Good and The Feeling Good Handbook - By Dr. David Burns

Seek Help from Qualified Psychologists and Psychistrists if you have problems coping.

Seek out a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist if you are having difficulty dealing with any stress, anxiety and worry, sadness or depression or have any odd thoughts that you don’t understand. Its always better to get help from the psychologist sooner rather than later. If you have a family history of mental illness, be sure to tell the psychologist or psychiatrist because that will help them plan the most effective therapies for you.

If you have a family history of mental illness and live close to one of the Early Psychosis and Schizophrenia Prevention, Evaluation and Treatment centers around the world – definitely visit them for an evaluation or talk to them if you have a strong family background of schizophrenia - for example two or more family members who have had schizophrenia. Also - contact them if you ever experience any of the following symptoms:

  • changes in perception
  • unusual thoughts
  • odd behavior
  • social withdrawal

Other symptoms may include:

  • loss of interest or lack of motivation
  • trouble thinking clearly
  • changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • less concern with appearance or clothes
  • feeling suspicious of others
  • feeling like things are unreal

Recommended Reading:

Cognitive Therapy May Prevent High Risk Populations From Developing Psychosis

Early Treatment Confirmed as Optimal for Best Outcome

Early Treatment with Antidepressants May Prevent Schizophrenia

Fish Oils Tested as Preventative Approach to Schizophrenia - Some Positive Results











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