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Can schizophrenia go away naturally?

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder characterized by disruptions in thinking, emotion, behavior, and perception. Key symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech or behavior, and impaired cognitive ability. Schizophrenia typically emerges in late adolescence or early adulthood, and affects around 1% of the population.

Schizophrenia is considered a chronic condition, meaning it is lifelong and does not fully go away on its own. However, some people wonder if schizophrenia symptoms can improve or even disappear without medication or other treatment. Below is an in-depth look at whether schizophrenia can go away naturally.

Table of Contents

Quick Facts on Schizophrenia

What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a chronic mental health disorder marked by hallucinations, delusions, confused thinking, and abnormal behavior. It usually starts in late adolescence or early adulthood.

What are the symptoms?

Common symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, abnormal motor behavior, and negative symptoms like apathy and social withdrawal.

What causes it?

Schizophrenia likely arises from a complex interaction of genetic, biological, psychological and environmental factors. An imbalance in dopamine activity may play a role.

How is it treated?

Treatment typically involves antipsychotic medication combined with psychosocial support. Hospitalization may be needed during acute episodes.

What is the prognosis?

Schizophrenia is a chronic, lifelong disorder. However, many people with schizophrenia can lead productive lives with proper treatment and support.

Understanding the Course of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is widely considered to be a chronic, lifelong condition. This means the core symptoms persist over a long period of time, often requiring ongoing treatment and management. However, the course and prognosis of schizophrenia can vary significantly between individuals. Here is an overview of the typical progression:

Prodromal phase

Prior to the onset of full psychosis, many people exhibit early warning signs like social withdrawal, irritability, depression, and subtle cognitive and perceptual disturbances. This prodromal phase can last for several years.

First psychotic episode

The first definitive psychotic episode usually occurs in the late teens or 20s. Hallucinations, delusions, and major disturbances in behavior may require hospitalization.

Remission and relapse

After the initial episode, many people will experience periods of remission where symptoms improve or disappear, followed by relapses where symptoms worsen again. Stress, drug use, and treatment noncompliance can trigger relapses.

Late course

Over the long-term course, some people remain chronically ill with severe, debilitating symptoms. But others experience significant improvement and periods of stable remission with proper treatment. Cognitive and negative symptoms often persist.

Is Remission Possible?

While schizophrenia is not curable, research shows that a significant portion of people do achieve remission at some point. Remission means core symptoms are minimized to the point where they no longer interfere with daily functioning. Estimates vary, but according to large longitudinal studies, remission rates may be:

– Around 50% within the first 5 years of diagnosis

– Around 70% within the first 20 years

However, remission usually requires maintenance antipsychotic medication and a low-stress environment. Approximately 80% of people who discontinue medication relapse back into an active psychotic state within a year.

Partial vs. full remission

In partial remission, people may have relatively mild levels of residual symptoms. In full remission, symptoms are essentially absent or very subtle. Full remission is less common, with rates of around 20% in the first 20 years.

Duration of remission

Remission can sometimes last for years at a time. But episodes of relapse are common, especially when people stop taking their psychiatric medication. Maintaining full remission generally requires vigilant treatment over the long term.

Can Schizophrenia Symptoms Disappear Without Treatment?

Some people believe schizophrenia can go into remission or even fully disappear over time without medication or other treatment. However, research does not support this view:

Medication critical for symptom control

Numerous studies confirm that continuous antipsychotic medication is essential for controlling acute psychotic symptoms over the long term and achieving sustained remission. Over 80% of unmedicated patients relapse within a year of discontinuing medication.

Therapy and rehab support remission

While antipsychotics treat current symptoms, adjunctive psychosocial therapies help people manage residual symptoms, rebuild coping abilities, and prevent relapse during remission. Stopping all treatment usually precipitates relapse.

Severity tends to increase without treatment

Research tracking the long-term course of schizophrenia consistently shows that symptoms and disability get progressively worse over time when no treatment is provided, due to neural degeneration and compounding social consequences.

Spontaneous remissions are very rare

There are extremely rare reports of people recovering from a single psychotic episode without treatment. However, virtually all experts agree that spontaneous long-term remission without any antipsychotic medication or psychosocial care is exceedingly unlikely.

Symptom fluctuations are common

Some unmedicated patients do experience temporary lessening of acute symptoms at times due to random fluctuations. But this rarely lasts more than a few weeks or months before psychosis returns.

Factors That Influence Prognosis

Despite being a chronic disorder, the long-term prognosis for schizophrenia can vary substantially between patients. Here are some of the main factors that affect outcomes:

Male vs. female

Onset tends to be later in women, who typically show milder symptomatology and better social adjustment. Men usually exhibit earlier onset and more severe deficits.

Age of onset

Earlier onset, especially in childhood, is linked to worse prognosis. Onset after age 40 predicts better outcomes.

Premorbid functioning

Better cognitive and social functioning prior to onset predicts increased likelihood of remission.

Acute symptom severity

More severe psychotic symptoms often indicate poorer prognosis. However, outcome cannot be reliably predicted from the first episode alone.

Treatment compliance

Continued treatment adherence is the strongest predictor of remission and stability. Noncompliance increases risk of relapse.

Substance abuse

Co-occurring substance abuse and addiction substantially increase relapse rates and worsen long-term outcomes.

Family involvement

Supportive family environments and relationships are associated with better outcomes and treatment adherence.

Social/economic resources

Access to stable housing, healthcare, rehabilitation services, and social support improves prognosis.

Is Full Recovery Possible?

Full, permanent “recovery” from schizophrenia is very rare. Less than 5% of patients achieve full recovery by no longer needing any psychiatric treatment whatsoever. However, many people do achieve functional recovery where symptoms are controlled enough to resume work, relationships, and an independent life:

Residual symptoms often persist

Even in remission, subtle cognitive, negative, and perceptual symptoms may remain to some degree and require ongoing management.

Relapse risk remains

Symptoms can easily intensify again under stress or if treatment is discontinued, requiring reactive stabilization.

Functional recovery is increasingly likely with time

After 2-5 years of sustained remission and treatment, many people regain substantial functionality in work and social settings.

Recovery varies by individual factors

With comprehensive treatment, supportive conditions, and socioeconomic advantages, recovery of normal functioning becomes increasingly possible.

Long-term medication often necessary

While some can eventually taper antipsychotics, around 2/3 require lifetime medication to remain relapse-free.

So while full medical recovery from schizophrenia is uncommon, long-term remission and functional recovery are attainable for many with early intervention and diligent, individualized treatment.

Natural Remedies and Lifestyle Changes

There are adjunctive therapies and lifestyle changes that may help improve outcomes when combined with standard medical treatment:

Omega-3 fatty acids

Some research indicates omega-3 supplements may have a modest stabilizing effect and reduce risk of psychotic relapse.

Vitamin therapies

Correcting vitamin deficiencies and supplementing with vitamin B, folate, and niacin appears mildly helpful in a subset of patients.


Early research shows antioxidants like n-acetylcysteine (NAC) may provide mild additive benefit along with antipsychotic medication.

Cognitive training

Computerized drills and exercises designed to improve cognitive deficits show some efficacy in schizophrenia when used consistently.

Yoga and meditation

Mind-body practices aimed at reducing stress, improving coping, and promoting self-regulation can support overall wellbeing and stability.

Aerobic exercise

Regular cardiovascular exercise may help relieve psychiatric symptoms to a small extent, likely by modulating dopamine.


Talk therapy oriented around social and occupational recovery can help people better manage residual symptoms and achieve functional goals.

Social connection

Meaningful interpersonal relationships and community support provide a valuable protective buffer during long-term management.

So while alternative approaches do not replace standard treatment, incorporating certain lifestyle interventions and holistic practices may amplify therapeutic effects and support the recovery process.

Can Childhood Schizophrenia Resolve Itself Over Time?

Schizophrenia very rarely occurs in childhood, but when it does, the outlook is typically worse compared to adult onset:

Symptoms are often severe and complex

Early onset schizophrenia often presents with complex neurological and psychological disturbances that are very difficult to manage.

Treatment response is usually poor

Childhood schizophrenia tends to respond more poorly to antipsychotics and psychotherapy compared to adult cases.

Relapse rates are high

Remission of acute symptoms is complicated by frequent relapses and residual functional deficits that persist through adolescence.

Developmental disruption is severe

The onset of psychosis during critical neurodevelopmental windows causes profound disruption of cognitive, social, and self-regulatory growth.

Long term outlook is worse

Adult functionality in early-onset cases is typically more impaired across occupational, interpersonal, and community dimensions.

Careful monitoring is critical

Due to poor prognosis, childhood schizophrenia requires very prompt, comprehensive and sustained specialty treatment to maximize quality of life and functioning.

So while a small subset may see improvement over time, childhood schizophrenia is usually a particularly severe illness. Intensive early intervention provides the best chance of managing symptoms and developmental disruption.

When to Seek Emergency Care

Most of the time, schizophrenia is managed on an outpatient basis. However, emergency psychiatric intervention is warranted if certain high-risk scenarios emerge:

Suicidal thoughts or plans

Expressing intentions to commit suicide requires immediate evaluation to address safety risks.

Harmful or dangerous behaviors

Psychosis-driven violence, reckless endangerment, or an inability to care for oneself also necessitates urgent assessment.

Total loss of contact with reality

Profound detachment from reality and extremely disorganized behavior risks safety and requires stabilization.

Medical complications

Inability to eat, drink, sleep, or attend to health combined with psychosis may indicate hospitalization.

Intensity of positive symptoms

Severity of delusions, hallucinations or thought disorder may warrant higher levels of observation and care.

Seeking prompt emergency assistance for any major deterioration helps prevent lasting repercussions and supports a better long-term course and prognosis.


Schizophrenia is considered a lifelong condition, but its course is variable and many people do achieve sustained remission and functional recovery with comprehensive treatment and support. While schizophrenia does not fully resolve on its own without medication and therapy, periods of remission are possible in a majority of patients. Furthermore, incorporating certain lifestyle interventions and holistic practices may help amplify progress. However, discontinuing psychiatric treatment almost always leads to relapse, and the prognosis of childhood-onset schizophrenia remains unfavorable. Overall, schizophrenia cannot be considered a curable disease, but with individualized, multidisciplinary care, many people can manage symptoms successfully and regain a good quality of life.