Schizophrenia is defined as a chronic, severe mental disorder affecting a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
The condition is rooted in an abnormal interpretation of reality, with delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thinking being a norm. These symptoms are severe and extremely disruptive to regular day-to-day life, impairing a person’s ability to function productively as part of society or in a relationship. Because of the distinctive nature of the symptoms, many misconceptions exist about schizophrenia.
For instance, that it describes having a split or multiple personalities, or people with schizophrenia are all dangerous and violent, and everyone with schizophrenia should be institutionalized. Of course, there is no truth to any of this. People living with schizophrenia that are being treated can lead fairly normal lives with their families.
Early treatment interventions are necessary to avoid serious complications, and to establish a more positive outlook in the long run. Because even though schizophrenia is a treatable condition, it’s something that requires lifelong management to ensure improved quality of living.
One of the first and most significant steps in gaining the upper hand with schizophrenia is to dispel the various myths surrounding this condition. When people are better educated, they are able to make better decisions about their health and wellbeing. The classic myth of schizophrenia meaning you have a split personality, for example, has been debunked through thorough research.
‘Split personality’ as it’s called, is properly termed Dissociative Identity Disorder or Multiple Personality Disorder, and it is not only extremely rare, but wholly distinct from schizophrenia. There is a breakdown that occurs in schizophrenia, in thoughts, behaviors, and emotions, but this is very different to that seen in DID or MPD. Violent behavior is also not common among people with schizophrenia. In fact, research suggests that they are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators thereof.
Another common myth is that people with schizophrenia cannot function as a productive member of society, like hold down a job. Mental health professionals have shown that with treatment stabilizing the condition, people can go on to lead regular, functional lives both at work and at home.
Blatant changes in character—normal one minute, and a different person the next—is a common descriptor of schizophrenia, and yet another misconception. The progression of the condition is gradual, with changes happening over time rather than in a flash. But the biggest myth that we need to tackle, is the one that states people with schizophrenia need to be institutionalized.
Because this is probably the one thing that strikes fear into many people who are thinking about getting help for their condition, and stop them from doing so. Treatment for schizophrenia may include a combination of in- and out-patient care, with medication and psychotherapy. A plan is tailored to suit the individual needs of every person, but lifelong hospitalization is unlikely.
Working with the facts of schizophrenia is a lot more beneficial to everyone and helps to form a solid foundation when it comes to seeking treatment. So let’s look at some of them…
The 5 subtypes of schizophrenia are: Paranoid Schizophrenia, Disorganized Schizophrenia, Catatonic Schizophrenia, Undifferentiated Schizophrenia, and Residual Schizophrenia. Cognitive symptoms of the condition include having trouble focusing/lack of attention, and problems with memory.
The exact cause of schizophrenia is mostly unknown, but mental health specialists attribute the development of this mental disorder partly to genetics (tends to run in the family), the unique chemistry of the brain, environmental factors, and brain abnormalities that might have occurred through injury. Finally, schizophrenia can affect different people, but appears mostly when a person is in their teenage years or early 20s.
Some of the main symptoms that will arise include delusions—having firm beliefs despite evidence that they aren’t true, hallucinations—hearing sounds/voices or seeing visions that don’t exist but are believed to be real, disorganized speech as a consequence of broken thought patterns—illogical, incoherent, starting off saying one thing but ending on another topic, disorganized behavior—lack of impulse control and impaired daily functioning.
A person with schizophrenia will appear to have a lack of normal behaviors, like blank facial expressions (no emotion), disinterest in the world around them, and no enthusiasm about anything.
As mentioned above, early intervention is very important in the treatment of schizophrenia, and catching the early warning signs will help this endeavor. The general nature of this condition is that it follows a slow progression, so loved ones are sure to notice that something is wrong before it reaches dire proportions.
Things like eccentric behavior, episodes of depression, isolating themselves from social interaction, blank facial expressions, erratic sleeping patterns—either sleeping too much, too little, or restless sleep, inability to concentrate, deterioration of personal hygiene, and illogical speech are all signs that schizophrenia could be developing. If any of these signs are noticed, it’s important to seek professional help as soon as possible. It could be schizophrenia, but it could also be attributed to something else entirely. The fact remains, these behaviors are not normal and require treatment.
Leaving these symptoms untreated could have irreversible consequences causing the complete breakdown of any chance at achieving wellness and wellbeing. Don’t get caught up in the stigma surrounding mental illness that’s rooted in myths and misconceptions, but rather base your beliefs on the facts we’ve presented in this article.
A diagnosis is required before treatment for schizophrenia can begin, and it’s important to remember that this diagnosis is not the end of your life, but the start of your journey to health. Be prepared for a combination of medication, therapy, and specific changes to your lifestyle that will form the foundation for living without or less severe symptoms so you can regain control of your daily functioning. If you have any concerns or questions about schizophrenia, please feel free to contact us at ZwavelStream Clinic for more information.