Let's talk Schizophrenia.
Mental health challenges have come to the forefront of social concerns recently as more and more people recognize that good mental health is attainable with the right treatment. Schizophrenia is a misunderstood, serious, and confusing mental illness. It is hounded by stigma and those who have it are frequently discriminated against in social circles, at work and in society as a whole. This inability for the general public to comprehend mental illness, especially schizophrenia, creates more problems than it solves. Understanding what schizophrenia isn’t, is therefore just as important as understanding what it is.
Signs And Symptoms Of Schizophrenia
The first important fact to know about schizophrenia, as well as all other mental illnesses is that it affects each of those diagnosed with it differently. There are common traits, however. Its onset is usually between the ages of 16 and 30 and men are affected earlier in life than women. Its most marked characteristic is that when the patient has a bad “episode” he or she is not capable of telling the difference between what is real and what is not.
Five main symptoms of schizophrenia can be laid out. These are disorganized speech, disorganized behavior, hallucinations, delusions, and “negative” symptoms.
- Disorganized speech: Since schizophrenics having an episode have confusing thoughts their speech will probably reflect this. They may start out saying one thing and end up talking about something completely unrelated.
- Disorganized behavior: This includes the deteriorating ability to take care of yourself, inappropriate emotional responses, unregulated impulses, and bizarre behavior that may appear to have no purpose.
- Hallucinations: These primarily include hearing voices. These voices could be directing those diagnosed with the illness to do things, or telling them things that are untrue. They are often quite terrifying for the patient.
- Delusions: These are thoughts about the world that are totally untrue. For instance, a schizophrenic having a delusional episode may think they are a famous person or that they have abilities to fly. They can also be paranoid and claim the FBI is watching them, or that they are being chased by the police.
- Negative symptoms: These are characterized by deteriorating self-care, difficulties in expressing emotion, social withdrawal or lack of interest in the world, and speech difficulties that can make them difficult to understand, or they may have no tone variation when speaking.
Whilst it is imperative to understand that schizophrenia is a chronic illness and someone diagnose with it will need lifelong treatment, they do not experience symptoms on a daily basis. They can have extended periods of “normal” behavior when you would not be able to distinguish them from anyone else. However, once they start having an episode, they may not know they are ill. If you notice any disorganized thought patterns or speech, withdrawal and depression, and most certainly if any hallucination or delusions occur, the patient needs medical attention right away. You can take them to a doctor or a mental health care professional. However, if they pose any danger to themselves or others, you may need to call 911 to get them hospitalized and stabilized as soon as possible.
Causes of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is not caused by a lack of willpower, split personality disorder, or bad parenting. It is certainly not devil possession or caused by witchcraft. Whilst its causes are not fully understood, they are thought of as being both genetic and by imbalances of the neurotransmitters glutamate, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain.
Treatment of Schizophrenia
For the most part medications such as atypical antipsychotics are used to treat and manage symptoms of schizophrenia. However, at times where the episodes are very bad, hospitalization may be necessary. Psychiatric clinics are excellent care facilities for people having a serious episode as they provide a place for supportive therapy and socialisation with others undergoing mental health issues. Medication can be monitored and changed accordingly and order can be restored to the life of the affected.
Schizophrenics can live normal lives and be highly productive. They are not aggressive or violent in most cases and can contribute positively to society. They simply deserve the same respect and dignity that would be afforded any other member of society. The good news is that even if you are diagnozed with schizophrenia, you can live a good life and achieve your goals without fear of failure.
If you need further info on Schizophrenia please check out PsyCom.net, a 30-year-old mental health site founded by Dr. Ivan Goldberg a renowned self-screening assessment for depression.