Schizophrenia can affect nearly every area of a person’s life. People with schizophrenia exhibit both negative and positive emotions. But it is the negative mood state that can lead to poor outcomes and increase the risk of depression and suicidal behavior in people living with schizophrenia. To better understand how the concept of self and relative mood states affect treatment outcomes, Dafna Weinberg of the Department of Psychology at Ben-Gurion University in Israel recently led a study examining four specific domains of self-concept. Specifically, Weinberg looked at negative symptoms, positive symptoms, depression, and quality of life in a sample of 89 individuals being treated for schizophrenia, and examined how these were influenced by self-esteem, self-concept appraisal, and self-health appraisal. The participants were assessed at the beginning of the study period and then five days later to determine how stress affected the self-domains. Weinberg examined the participants again six weeks later.
The study revealed that the participants with unstable levels of self-esteem had poorer qualities of life than those with more stable self-esteem. Individuals with a clear sense of self exhibited increases in positive effect and better overall qualities of life. This was especially evident when stress levels were low. Upon further examination, Weinberg found that depression was a risk factor for low self-esteem and beliefs of illness. These findings suggest that depressive symptoms can reduce self-esteem in individuals with schizophrenia, and thus contribute to further deterioration of other self-concepts and well-being. Although the study period was relatively brief, Weinberg believes that this research, which is the first to explore all four domains of self in a sample of schizophrenic participants, illuminates salient risk factors that can lead to negative outcomes. “Findings clearly attest to a complex, risk/resilience role of the self-concept in the short-term course, and reveal undetected consequences of depressive symptoms in schizophrenia,” she said.
Weinberg, Dafna, Golan Shahar, Gal Noyman, Larry Davidson, Thomas H. Mcglashan, and Shmuel Fennig. Role of the self in schizophrenia: A multidimensional examination of short-term outcomes. Psychiatry: Interpersonal & Biological Processes 75.3 (2012): 285-97. Print.
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