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Complications of schizophrenia

NHS Choices Medical Reference

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Due to the complex nature of schizophrenia, many people with the condition have problems finding and keeping a job.

You may also be reluctant to re-enter the job market because you may fear that you would be unable to cope with the responsibility. However, most experts would recommend that you try to return to work as soon as possible because people with schizophrenia who continue to work tend to have a better quality of life compared with those who do not work.

If you feel ready and able to return to work you should ask to speak to an occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can help you to improve both your employment and social skills.

There are also a number of organisations that provide support, training and advice for people with schizophrenia who wish to continue working.

Your community mental health team is a good first point of contact to find out what services and support are available for you. Mental health charities such as Mind or Rethink are also an excellent source of information relating to training and employment.

While you are looking for work, you may want to consider taking part in voluntary activities. Doing voluntary work is a good way of learning new skills and increasing your self-confidence.

Depression and suicide

Many people with schizophrenia experience periods of depression. You should not ignore these symptoms as, left untreated, depression can worsen and lead to suicidal thoughts.

Research has found that 30% of people with schizophrenia will attempt suicide at least once, and one in 10 people with schizophrenia will commit suicide.

If you find that you have been feeling particularly down over the last month and you no longer take pleasure in the things that you used to enjoy, you may be depressed. You should see your GP for advice and treatment.

You should immediately report any suicidal thoughts to your community mental health team.

The warning signs of suicide

The warning signs that can indicate that people with depression and schizophrenia are considering suicide are listed below.

  • Making final arrangements - such as giving away possessions, making a will or saying goodbye to friends.
  • Talking about death or suicide - this may be a direct statement such as, "I wish I was dead". However, depressed people will often talk about the subject indirectly, using phrases such as "I think that dead people must be happier than us" or "wouldn't it be nice to go to sleep and never wake up."
  • Self harm - such as cutting their arms or legs or burning themselves with cigarettes.
  • A sudden lifting of mood - a sudden lift of mood could mean that a person has decided to commit suicide and feels better because of their decision.

Helping a suicidal friend or relative

If you see any of these warning signs you should:

  • get professional help for the person, such as a crisis resolution team (CRT) or the duty psychiatrist at your local A&E department,
  • let them know that they are not alone and that you care about them, and
  • offer your support in finding other solutions to their problems.

If you feel that there is an immediate danger of the person committing suicide, you should stay with them or have someone else stay with them and remove all available means of suicide such as sharp objects and medication.

Medical Review: August 01, 2009

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