What is Schizophrenia?
About 1% of Americans have Schizophrenia.Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder where people interpret reality abnormally. It can manifest itself through hallucinations, disordered thinking, and delusions. They may also hear voices of people that are not there, or think people are reading their minds, or plotting to harm them. Because of this, individuals may exhibit strange behavior and feel terrified, causing them to withdraw.
Families and society can be affected by schizophrenia too. Schizophrenia can cause people to have difficulty holding a job, or even taking care of themselves, thus causing families to get involved as they may rely on them for their help.
Contrary to popular belief, schizophrenia is not a split personality disorder, or someone with multiple personalities, rather, the “split mind” refers to an irregular imbalance of emotions and thinking.
Schizophrenia usually begins in the early 20’s in men and in the late 20’s in women. Its rare to be diagnosed in children as well as adults over the age of 45.
- Delusions: These are thoughts that are not based on reality. One may think they are being harmed, when they are not, you may believe you are famous, or someone is in love with you when they are not, or a major catastrophe is about to occur.
- Hallucinations: This is seeing or hearing things that don’t exist. With schizophrenia, this most oftentimes involves hearing voices that aren’t there.
- Disorganized Thinking/ Speech: Effective communication is impaired and answer to questions can be completely unrelated.
- Abnormal Motor Behavior: This could be seen in abnormal hunched posture or facial expressions, a lack of response, or useless or excessive movement.
- Lack of Ability to Function Normally: This could be a lack of emotional response to things, not making eye contact, monotone speaking, neglect of personal hygiene, social withdrawal, and lack of interest in everyday activities.
When to See A Doctor
More often than not, it is up to family member or close friends to encourage an individual who potentially has schizophrenia to see a doctor. This is because candidates with schizophrenia lack an awareness of the abnormality of their symptoms and problems, stemming from their mental illness.
- When it runs in the family
- Being exposed to viruses, toxins, or malnutrition in the womb
- Autoimmune diseases leading to increased immune system activation
- Birth from an older father
- Taking mind altering drugs during teen years or early adulthood
Individuals with schizophrenia require treatment for life. On a positive note, schizophrenia can be managed through medications and with psychosocial therapy.
Usually a psychiatrist guides the treatment.
- Individual Therapy: learning to cope with stress
- Social Skills Training: learning to improve communication and social interactions
- Family Therapy: provides support and education for families dealing with schizophrenia
- Vocational Rehab and Supported Employment: helping people with schizophrenia find and keep jobs
Medications are the main cornerstone for treatment of schizophrenia. It is important to carefully approach different medications as the side effects can be serious and rare. Antipsychotic medications are the most popular form of medication for treatment. In case candidates are reluctant to taking medication, they may have to receive an injection of the medication instead.
If you think one of your loved ones has schizophrenia, don’t hesitate to contact a medical professional today.
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