Can digital technology improve care in schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with one’s ability to think clearly, regulate emotions, make decisions and relate to others. Some individuals with the illness experience visual and or auditory hallucinations. Schizophrenia is common, impacting approximately 1.5% of the population worldwide and often has an early onset in the late teens or early twenties. While the first line treatment for schizophrenia remains antipsychotic medications, the development of new and improved medications for this illness has largely stalled. But as new medications have made little headway for schizophrenia in recent years, a new tool has shown tremendous potential.
Schizophrenia and smartphones
Today, those with schizophrenia increasingly own and are using smartphones and other digital technologies. A recent study by the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) found that 54% of individuals with the illness owned a smartphone in 2014 and 61% owned two or more connected devices. The study also showed that those with schizophrenia have the same feelings about their phones as the general population in that the technology does not make them any more paranoid, anxious, or worried than it does for anyone else. Another review focused on social media and schizophrenia and found that those with the illness are active on sites like Facebook, and are often searching the Internet for medical information.
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