How Does Schizophrenia Impact Everyday Life
For those living with the illness, life with schizophrenia is about managing symptoms when they flare up, maintaining medication needs and adjustments and staying aware of ones perceptions. People learning about this condition may wonder, how does schizophrenia affect social life? Those managing schizophrenia sometimes feel hesitant to engage socially and may restrict their connections to a few close, trusted friends and family. While this certainly isnt universally true, often people with schizophrenia are overwhelmed by too many people and prefer to keep stimulation to a minimum to avoid triggering symptoms.
Others with schizophrenia learn to mitigate symptoms and participate in social events with relative ease. Often ones ability to engage with family and friends depends on the severity of the disorder, the constellation of symptoms and ones ability to use available resources to manage them.
Working with schizophrenia can be managed when one has learned to identify the trends within their illness. Sometimes there are periods of relative calm when the symptoms are minimal and one can proceed with work and social plans uninterrupted. During difficult periods when symptoms are flaring up, people with schizophrenia can communicate their needs to an understanding employer who will work with them on taking time off and returning to work when they are able to.
Help Them Maintain Their Social Skills
People with schizophrenia tend to reverse the sleep cycle, staying awake late into the night and then waking up in the afternoon, Baker says. Sleeping in late can disrupt routines and encourage isolation. Other symptoms of schizophrenia, such as social withdrawal and poor interpersonal skills, can also contribute to this isolation.
Caregivers can help their loved one maintain social skills by adhering to routines, including planned social activities and outings. Take an active role by getting the person into a community program, taking him or her to the park every week, or initiating contact with friends, Baker suggests.
Doing Everything For Them
When your loved one is unable to do chores, errands, or daily tasks, you might try to help by taking over those responsibilities.
But its often more helpful to encourage them to take steps toward doing these things themselves and offering support when needed.
You can also ask if theres anything specific getting in the way of tasks:
- If they havent done laundry because they ran out of laundry soap and feel afraid of leaving the house, you could offer to do a grocery run.
- If they cant prepare meals because a voice threatens them whenever they pick up a knife, you might help them chop a few days worth of vegetables in advance.
You can also offer to help them plan and schedule out weekly responsibilities when you spend time together.
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Maintain Your Social Network
Try to maintain your friendships or the network of people that you have in your life. These will later become important supports as your loved one recovers. Educate them and update them on your loved one’s recovery. People are sometimes afraid to ask questions about schizophrenia and this will put them at ease.
Schizophrenia: The 7 Keys To Self
Seek social support. Friends and family vital to helping you get the right treatment and keeping your symptoms under control. Regularly connecting with others face-to-face is also the most effective way to calm your nervous system and relieve stress. Stay involved with others by continuing your work or education. If thats not possible, consider volunteering, joining a schizophrenia support group, or taking a class or joining a club to spend time with people who have common interests. As well as keeping you socially connected, it can help you feel good about yourself.
Manage stress. High levels of stress are believed to trigger schizophrenic episodes by increasing the bodys production of the hormone cortisol. As well as staying socially connected, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your stress levels. Try adopting a regular relaxation practice such as yoga, deep breathing, or meditation.
Get regular exercise. As well as all the emotional and physical benefits, exercise may help reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, improve your focus and energy, and help you feel calmer. Aim for 30 minutes of activity on most days, or if its easier, three 10-minute sessions. Try rhythmic exercise that engages both your arms and legs, such as walking, running, swimming, or dancing.
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Diagnosing Schizophrenia Requires Special Testing
A conventional physician usually cant diagnose schizophrenia. However, a primary care doctor can perform tests to ensure that the symptoms arent caused by another medical condition. Once your doctor rules out other problems, they may refer the patient to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
The mental health professional will interview the patient and ask about their psychological and medical histories. Psychiatric care providers use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to evaluate a patients symptoms.
There are several criteria for diagnosing schizophrenia, including:
- A patient has at least two core symptoms, one of which must be disorganized speech, hallucinations, or delusions for a minimum of one month
- Self-care, personal relations, and motivation have diminished significantly since symptoms started
- Disturbances are not caused by a substance abuse disorder or physical illness, and
- Symptoms that indicate psychosis or loss of reality last for at least six months.
Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia can be hard to diagnose for a few reasons. One is that people with the disorder often don’t realize they’re ill, so they’re unlikely to go to a doctor for help.Another issue is that many of the changes leading up to schizophrenia, called the prodrome, can mirror other normal life changes. For example, a teen who’s developing the illness might drop their group of friends and take up with new ones. They may also have trouble sleeping or suddenly start coming home with poor grades.
Some research suggests that if a doctor strongly thinks someone is getting the disorder while still in this early phase, low doses of antipsychotic medication might delay it. More studies need to be done to know whether these drugs work for young people at risk for the disease. Cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and social skills training appear to have clearer benefits for them, at least in the short term, when used early on. Learn more about the prodrome phase of schizophrenia.
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Treating Schizophrenia Is A Lifelong Task
Schizophrenia can be managed with proper therapy. However, its not a one-and-done type of treatment. There is no cure for the disease, but medication and counseling can ease symptoms.
People with mild cases of the disease may not need medication. Those with severe schizophrenia can benefit from taking antipsychotic drugs. These pharmaceuticals help neurons communicate with each other properly and may relieve confused thinking, hallucinations, and delusions.
The goal of medication is to offer the lowest effective dose. Other medications, such as anti-anxiety pills and antidepressants, can help reduce symptoms.
People with schizophrenia must remain in treatment throughout their lives. Sometimes, the medication makes them feel better and they believe that they can stop taking it. No one should abandon or terminate their treatment plan without the advice of a medical professional.
Because some medications for schizophrenia can produce undesirable side effects, the patient should work with a team of health care professionals to ease those symptoms and manage the illness. Many people with this disease seek help and advice from people such as:
- Psychiatrists, psychologists or counselors
How Is Schizophrenia Treated
There are different types of treatment available. Medical professionals should work with you to find the right treatment for you. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that you should be offered a combination of medication and talking therapies.
People who live with schizophrenia can respond to treatment differently.
For many treatment helps to reduce symptoms to help make daily life easier. You may find that you need to continue with treatment to keep well. For every 5 people with schizophrenia:
- 1 will get better within 5 years of their first obvious symptoms.
- 3 will get better but will have times when they get worse again.
- 1 will have troublesome symptoms for long periods of time.
What medication should I be offered?
Your doctor may offer you medication known as an antipsychotic. These reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia, but dont cure the illness. Your healthcare professionals should work with you to help choose a medication. If you want, your carer can also help you make the decision. Doctors should explain the benefits and side effects of each drug.
In the past, some antipsychotics had negative side effects. Some people find that the side effects of newer antipsychotic drugs are easier to manage.
Your medication should be reviewed at least once a year.
What type of psychosocial treatment will I be offered?
Family intervention is where you and your family work with mental health professionals to help to manage relationships.
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What Myths Are There About Schizophrenia
There are some myths or mistaken beliefs about schizophrenia which come from the media. For example,
- Schizophrenia means someone has a split personality
This is not the case. The mistake may come from the fact that the name ‘schizophrenia’ comes from two Greek words meaning ‘split’ and ‘mind’.
- Schizophrenia causes people to be violent
Research shows that only a small number of people with the illness may become violent. The same way as a small minority of the general public may become violent.
People with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than other people are to be harmed by them. But as these incidents can be shocking, the media often report them in a way which emphasises the mental health diagnosis. This can create fear and stigma in the general public.
Is It Possible To Recover From Schizophrenia
Many people who live with schizophrenia have recovery journeys that lead them to live meaningful lives.
Recovery can be thought of in terms of:
- clinical recovery, and
- personal recovery.
What is clinical recovery?
Your doctor might have talked to you about recovery. Some doctors and health professionals think of recovery as:
- no longer having mental illness symptoms, or
- where your symptoms are controlled by treatment to such a degree that they are not significantly a problem.
Sometimes this is called clinical recovery.
Everyones experience of clinical recovery is different.
- Some people completely recover from schizophrenia and go on to be symptom free.
- Some who live with schizophrenia can improve a great deal with ongoing treatment.
- Some improve with treatment but need ongoing support from mental health and social services.
What is personal recovery?
Dealing with symptoms is important to a lot of people. But some people think that recovery is wider than this. We call this personal recovery.
Personal recovery means that you can live a meaningful life.
What you think of as being a meaningful life might be different to how other people see it. You can think about what you would like to do to live a meaningful life and work towards that goal.
Below are some ways you can think of recovery.
What can help me recover?
You may want to think about the following questions.
The following things can be important in recovery.
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Do People Know When They Have Schizophrenia
Sometimes. It depends on multiple factors. Whether the symptomsare mild, moderate or severe can make a big difference. If paranoiais mild, and hallucinations are transient and not too bothersome,then generally the answer would be “no”. However, if delusions andhallucinations are severe, the afflicted individual generally isaware that something is not right, . Even when symptoms are severe, the person withschizophrenia often maintains denial of the illness . This results inthe majority of individuals with schizophrenia seeking toself-medicate rather than comply with anti-psychotic medications . – from a Board CertifiedPsychiatrist and Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
How Do Doctors Diagnose The Type Of Schizophrenia
If the patient is admitted, the psychiatrist talks to them and evaluates their behavior, considers whether any symptoms were triggered by alcohol or drugs, reviews any records from prior admissions, and talks to the family.
Initially, we may only see that the patient is losing track of reality, says Dr. Bowers. We may need more time to see all the symptoms of schizophrenia. These symptoms include:
- Fixed, false beliefs.
- Seeing visions or shadows.
- Suspicion and distrust.
Government regulations require psychiatrists to diagnose a specific type of schizophrenia so that insurance companies get the green light to pay for care.
We hope to see enough symptoms during a three-, five- or 10-day hospital stay to clarify the type of schizophrenia, she says. But we may not see all of them, so the initial diagnosis may not be exactly right.
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Changes In Behaviour And Thoughts
A person’s behaviour may become more disorganised and unpredictable.
Some people describe their thoughts as being controlled by someone else, that their thoughts are not their own, or that thoughts have been planted in their mind by someone else.
Another feeling is that thoughts are disappearing, as though someone is removing them from their mind.
Some people feel their body is being taken over and someone else is directing their movements and actions.
What Is Schizophrenia Or Paranoid Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a challenging brain disorder that often makes it difficult to distinguish between what is real and unreal, to think clearly, manage emotions, relate to others, and function normally. It affects the way a person behaves, thinks, and sees the world.
The most common form is paranoid schizophrenia, or schizophrenia with paranoia as its often called. People with paranoid schizophrenia have an altered perception of reality. They may see or hear things that dont exist, speak in confusing ways, believe that others are trying to harm them, or feel like theyre being constantly watched. This can cause relationship problems, disrupt normal daily activities like bathing, eating, or running errands, and lead to alcohol and drug abuse in an attempt to self-medicate.
Many people with schizophrenia withdraw from the outside world, act out in confusion and fear, and are at an increased risk of attempting suicide, especially during psychotic episodes, periods of depression, and in the first six months after starting treatment.
Take any suicidal thoughts or talk very seriously
If you or someone you care about is suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S. at 1-800-273-TALK, visit IASP or Suicide.org to find a helpline in your country, or read Suicide Prevention.
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How To Help A Loved One
Try to stay calm and avoid feeling overwhelmed, confused, or fearful of someone experiencing hallucinations or delusions. A tranquil disposition can help the individual connect to reality. Here are some additional tips:
Hallucinations and delusions often come from a place of shame and fear so having a productive conversation can be challenging. Try gently explaining that you cannot see or hear what they are experiencing and need help understanding it.
Try to be sympathetic. Hallucinating is a very consuming experience. Speak slowly and clearly and frequently use the persons name. Managing your own anxiety will encourage the hallucinating person to be more responsive.
Dont argue with the hallucinations or deluded observations. It isnt useful to challenge the person who is struggling. Instead, focus on reality and work to stay engaged with that content.
Ask for help
If you feel ill-equipped to help someone experiencing psychosis, get help. Find out if there is a trusted friend, family member, or community resource you can reach out to. Never make threats and let them know its okay if theyd rather contact that person themselves first.
How You Get A Diagnosis
If you or someone you love shows any of these signs, see a doctor right away. The symptoms of prodrome are subtle and easy to miss. Many also overlap with other mental health issues, like depression and substance misuse.
To rule out other health problems, your doctor may order lab tests and imaging tests. You’ll also be asked to answer detailed questions about your health, feelings, thoughts, and daily habits. How you respond will help your doctor decide if you are in a schizophrenia prodrome and if so, what kind.
To reach the right diagnosis, your family doctor may refer you to a psychiatrist who treats schizophrenia.
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Ways To Help Someone Live Well With Schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia may need help from their family, friends, and community. Heres how to give your loved one the support he or she needs.
People with schizophrenia may need a considerable amount of support from family members and other loved ones to finish school, find work, maintain relationships, and achieve other goals they’ve set for themselves. Although it may be challenging at times, says Krista Baker, the program supervisor of outpatient schizophrenia services at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, it’s possible for people with schizophrenia to achieve independence and improve their quality of life if they adopt some healthy lifestyle habits. Here are eight ways you can help your loved one.
The Turning Point: Adolescence
An interaction between something in your genes and something in your environment probably causes the disease. Researchers still have a lot to learn about it, but it’s likely that many things play a role. Some, like exposure to a virus or malnutrition , might have happened while you were still in your mother’s womb. For vulnerable individuals, cannabis use can increase the risk of developing psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.
No one knows exactly why it usually crops up in late adolescence, but there are many theories.
Your brain changes and develops a lot during puberty. These shifts might trigger the disease in people who are at risk for it.
Some scientists believe it has to do with development in an area of the brain called the frontal cortex. Others think it has to do with too many connections between nerve cells being eliminated as the brain matures.
Hormones also play a major role in puberty. One theory is that women get schizophrenia later than men because they go through puberty earlier and the hormone estrogen might somehow protect them. Know how to recognize the signs of schizophrenia in teens.
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