Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

What Is The Prognosis?

Our 15 year olddaughter was diagnosed with schizophrenia last month and I’ve been reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m going to order the books I’ve seen suggested here on the website, but until then can anyone tell me what the usual prognosis is for a schizophrenia patient?

Does the disease progress even if the patient is compliant with medications? That’s the part I’m concerned about. My daughter complains of not remembering things well, and having difficulty concentrating.

Is my bright, articulate, and creative daughter going to slowly experience a mental decline? I’m so concerned about what the future holds for her.

I just read the other day I am discouraged to post here, but wanted to give you some hope nevertheless. I can’t tell you much about the particular prognosis for your daughter. In general they can vary greatly and I think it is important to keep in mind that, even when it doesn’t look too good, they can be proven wrong. My own prognosis wasn’t too bad, (those were pretty much the words I got from my psychiatrist, he didn’t mention any particular things that I could or could not do) certain circumstances favored a good outcome in my case. Others on the forum have been told they’d never be able to do this or that, and still, perseverance, therapies and the like have made them achieve many of such things.

As for mental decline… that term covers a lot. I do have less initiative, motivation in general is an issue, and became less talkative, these things developed over time for me, some starting before, some after my diagnosis.

I am in university, and was so as well before the onset of schizophrenia. My grades have slightly increased over time, when compared to the period prior to the onset. That aspect of mental life thus seems not to decline for me. But, I was diagnosed only three years ago, I can’t tell how these things turn out in the long run.

Things like difficulties with concentration and memory may or may not be temporary, I can only give you my personal experience with these issues. Nowadays my episodic memory isn’t as good as it used to be, but doesn’t really cause me any trouble. I had an episode where it took me half an hour (literally) and all the concentration I could gather to make a sandwich. I just couldn’t figure out what was supposed to go where etc. This got much better after a while.

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The prognosis is different for everyone.

My prognosis was very doom and gloom… when I was 17… I was diagnosed… self medicating… heavy pot smoker… heavy drinker… fought with my doc and parents on everything…

but when the pot and the alcohol and other drugs were no longer in my life… and I became med compliant… I ended up with a my job… I’m in school again… I’m living in my own place…

If she can avoid the pit falls of drugs… things might go better for her…

Early treatment can lead to early healing. - success stories - recovery tips

Best wishes

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Hello, There is no general prognosis or course of illness, according to everything I have read. Some people are very ill for years and recover significantly. I wrote a list of everything I can think of that might keep putting the odds more and more in your daughter’s favor. Not all of the list may be manageable or possible. If your daughter’s course of illness is more severe, that would be unusual. 20% of people recover spontaneously in the first two years. 50% of people experience significant improvement over time. Those stats are from the book “Surviving Schizophrenia.”

How to improve prognosis (layperson’s gleanings):

try never to use illicit drugs, esp. marijuana
eat healthy food with full nutrition profile, consider vitamins and other supplements
sleep well
stick with treatment team and communicate with them often
have enjoyable things to do as well as plenty of relaxing if needed
have do-able responsibilities involving job, school, or volunteer work (if possible)
spend time with family and friends

It’s a long list and incomplete. On your part, try not to push too hard. Criticism is more harmful than helpful. Get yourself into counseling if you or any family member (family counseling then) has any problems that destabilize the home environment (yelling, overinvolvement, or a few other dynamics that raise “expressed emotion” as in everhopeful’s post).

I understand your concern for your daughter’s future. One solace is doing your best each day and not thinking about the future. You and your family are not in control of the course of any medical illness. If there is a NAMI chapter in your area, they offer a family support group as well as education classes, all free.

I hope the best for your daughter and you.

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Thank you for your replies and reassurance. We do have a stable home environment, which I hope will help her have a good foundation for recovery. She has also never tried drugs or alcohol so far. She is very self-motivated to get to a place where the hallucinations are under control, so I think that’s really good.

I guess I’ll just need to be patient and take things one day at a time. I just want the best for her and this is such frightening new territory, I feel a little lost.

I am in the same boat. My son, aged 21, is newly diagnosed. He was a college student when symptoms began, including serious memory issues and difficulty concentrating/following directions, etc… I found an early intervention program for young people and he is participating in that. Just started medication a week ago. If you have any programs in your area focusing on young people with first episode psychosis, it may be a great option for treatment. Best wishes and know that there are others experiencing the same grief and fear that you are.

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After my first psychotic episode of about two years, it took me 6 months with medication to get my brain working again. I could not read, watch tv, cook, do bills, routines for kids, work, eat, shower…I started slowly and never gave up. I struggled and didn’t let this illness win. I struggled throught the bills, doing one number at a time. Took ages but I’m stubborn.

Now 6 years later I’m working again, I became team leader at work. I have routines. Cooking healthy meals for the family. But…there is always that but. I’m on high dose medications. I have had pre psychotic episodes a couple of times each year. Last 6 months have been stable. I hope it lasts. I still hear voices, have anhedonia and have delusions but I am in control. Meds are the key for me. And patience. A lot of patience. Never give up hope and don’t forget to have fun. Everything often spins around the diagnose and life becomes heavy.

It really depends. If she is on an anticholergenic to help muscle spasms or depression some can cause cognitive regression after 3 years of continuous use? My daughter took Benztropine (one of the worst for cognitive affects) with her Geodon medicine for a year and then didn’t need it anymore. She was lucky. There was a time we never thought she would recover… Completely bed ridden and underweight for a solid year. With one medicine once a day she was able to go to University, work part time while in school at a court house, volunteer on the weekends, make a few quality friends in a new state (she had been sent to school out of state since she was 13 and bedore her diagnosis so that’s where most of her friends were until she moved in with us in college at her diagnosis) , and she now works full time as an analytics manager. We have not noticed a mental decline. I would ask her psychiatrist or therapist of the side effects of specific drugs. My daughter has catatonic type and recently had her co-diagnosis of bi polar dropped by her psichiatrist. She exhibited depression at first but it was from her haldol medicine making her feel sick… She is off that now. Before finding the right medacine- at her worst she experienced weeks of sleepless nights, uncontrollable fears, inability to speak or walk, alot of falls and constant psychosis. She was quiet but mean. She even jumped out of a moving vehicle. Now, She is very nice and does not struggle at all. She is back to herself. We are lucky she only needed the anti-cholergenic with her medicine for a year. Good luck.

May I ask what age you are now?

The better the adherence to treatment, the more that she is able to do (socialize, volunteer work, get therapy, etc.) the better the prognosis.

Check out this Stanford University presentation - old (from 2005), but positive in the outlook:


Full presentation here: