How Schizophrenia Impacts Your Daily Activities
Symptoms of schizophrenia can come and go throughout a persons lifetime. Symptoms may become more severe, for example, if a treatment stops working or if a person is under a significant amount of stress. According to the American Psychiatric Association, some of these symptoms may include:
- Positive psychotic symptoms. Hallucinations, which may include hearing voices or paranoid delusions, may occur.
- Negative symptoms. A person with schizophrenia may experience a loss of ability to make plans, communicate, or express emotion.
- Disorganizationsymptoms. Confusion, trouble with logical thinking, or different behaviors may occur.
- Impaired cognition. Difficulties with attention, concentration, or memory may be present.
These symptoms may be controlled with various treatments, including:
- Medications. Anti-psychotic and anti-tremor medications may be helpful.
- Therapies. Support groups, cognitive therapy, psychotherapy, behavior therapy, and other types of therapies may be useful.
The treatments may not be effective forever, however.
What Are The 4 Main Types Of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia looks different from one person to the next. But there are four main categories into which patients fall:
Extremely Disorganized Or Catatonic Behavior
Disorganized behavior can include odd behaviors like smiling or laughing for no apparent reason, or talking to yourself. It can also include movements that seem to happen for no reason, or even being stressed or annoyed without a clear cause.
People with schizophrenia may have a childlike silliness about them. Or, they may be disheveled or oddly dressed. In some cases, they might also demonstrate inappropriate sexual behaviors, like public masturbation.
Catatonic behavior can include not moving much or at all, or refusing to do things or speak.
Someone might also do a lot of unusual movements that dont seem to have a purpose. You may find them purposely in strange positions or notice their unusual gestures or grimacing.
People with schizophrenia may also have echolalia or echopraxia .
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Your Attitude Towards Schizophrenia Treatment Matters
Accept your diagnosis. As upsetting as a diagnosis of schizophrenia can be, resolving to take a proactive role in treatment and self-help is crucial to your recovery. That means making healthy lifestyle changes, taking prescribed medications, and attending medical and therapy appointments.
Dont buy into the stigma of schizophrenia. Many fears about schizophrenia are not based on reality. Take your illness seriously but dont buy into the myth that you cant improve. Associate with people who see beyond your diagnosis, to the person you really are.
Communicate with your doctor. Help your doctor ensure youre getting the right type and dose of medication. Be honest and upfront about side effects, concerns, and other treatment issues.
Pursue self-help and therapy that helps you manage symptoms. Dont rely on medication alone. Self-help strategies can help you to manage symptoms and regain a sense of control over your health and well-being. Supportive therapy can teach you how to challenge delusional beliefs, ignore voices in your head, protect against relapse, and motivate yourself to persevere with treatment and self-help.
Set and work toward life goals. Having schizophrenia doesnt mean you cant work, have relationships, or experience a fulfilling life. Set meaningful life goals for yourself beyond your illness.
Getting a diagnosis
Because of these issues, it is best to see a psychiatrist with experience identifying and treating schizophrenia, rather than a family doctor.
Growing Awareness Of Veterans And Mental Illness
Growing public awareness of mental illness has made it easier for veterans seeking compensation for service-related schizophrenia. Mental health experts understand that it can take a long time, sometimes years, for psychotic symptoms, such as paranoid thoughts and hallucinations, to disrupt a persons life, at which point its not hard for a psychiatrist to make a definitive schizophrenia diagnosis. For a disorder as severe as schizophrenia, theres no reason why you shouldnt be getting disability benefits. If you can manage the claims process, with help from a qualified disability attorney or VA claims agent, you stand a very good chance of winning benefits.
Now lets take a look at how the VA rates schizophrenia , and how the claims process works.
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A Va Disability Lawyer Can Help You Create A Successful Va Disability Appeal For Schizophrenia
Know that for your VA disability appeal for schizophrenia to be successful, it needs to demonstrate three things. First, you have a valid diagnosis of schizophrenia. Second, you experienced an event during your military service . Third, a medical nexus exists between your in-service evidence and your diagnosis.
The Onset Of Schizophrenia Later In Life May Lead To Difficulty Securing Employment
Unfortunately, schizophrenia is a terribly disabling psychiatric illness with severe and long-term consequences for claimants and their families. The onset in early adulthood was clinically, at one point, considered by the medical community to be the main characteristic of schizophrenia.
Although the illness normally happens during a persons early adulthood its been reported that at least 20% of patients have onset after the age of 40 years, which would be the prime of a persons working career.
Most patients with late-onset schizophrenia have onset of illness during middle age although there are many reports of persons ages 65 and older that suffer schizophrenic symptoms which are more analogous to psychosis type issues, with fewer and less severe positive symptoms than those who are younger. Unfortunately, schizophrenia is associated with recurrent hospitalizations, need for long-term community support, poor social functioning, and high-unemployment rates. The employment of persons who suffer from schizophrenia is unfortunately often impeded by numerous clinical problems, including symptoms of schizophrenia and poor cognitive functioning. In fact, medical research has found that more positive psychotic symptoms were predictive of job loss.
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Tip : Watch For Signs Of Relapse
Stopping medication is the most frequent cause of relapse in schizophrenia, so its extremely important that your family member continues to take all medication as directed. While relapse can occur even if a person is taking medication as prescribed, you may be able to prevent a full-blown crisis by recognizing the warning signs and taking immediate steps.
How Is Schizophrenia Diagnosed
If symptoms are present, your doctor will perform a complete medical history and physical examination. Although there are no laboratory tests to specifically diagnose schizophrenia, the doctor might use various diagnostic tests â such as MRI or CT scans or blood tests â to rule out physical illness as the cause of your symptoms.
If the doctor finds no physical reason for the symptoms, he or she might refer the person to a psychiatrist or psychologist, healthcare professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Psychiatrists and psychologists use specially designed interview and assessment tools to evaluate a person for schizophrenia. The doctor or therapist bases his or her diagnosis on the personâs report of symptoms, and his or her observation of the personâs attitude and behavior.
The doctor or therapist then determines if the personâs symptoms point to a specific disorder as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders , which is published by the American Psychiatric Association and is the standard reference book for recognized mental illnesses. According to the DSM-5, a diagnosis of schizophrenia is made if a person has two or more core symptoms, one of which must be hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech for at least one month. The other core symptoms are gross disorganization and diminished emotional expression. Other DSM-5 criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia include:
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What Are The Symptoms
Mental health professionals classify most schizophrenia symptoms as either positive or negative. Other symptoms involve cognition and inappropriate motor behaviors.
- Positive symptoms include hallucinations and delusions, both of which can often be managed with medications. They arent considered positive because they are helpful or healthy, but rather because they appear because certain regions of the brain are activated.
- Negative symptoms appear to stem from diminished activation of certain parts of the brain, and dont usually respond as well to medical therapy as positive symptoms. Negative symptoms include those that interfere with normal, healthy functioning. They include problems interacting with other people and little desire to form social connections, as well as the inability to show emotions and feel pleasure and rewards.
- Cognition challenges associated with schizophrenia include confusion and disorganized speech. Thinking and verbal skills can become impaired, so, for example, an answer to a question may not make sense to the person asking the question.
- Abnormal behaviors and motor skills problems can range from agitation and impatience to silliness and other childlike traits. A persons body language may not match their words, while in other situations, someone with schizophrenia may not be able to formulate an answer or may be moving excessively, so communication and focus become even greater challenges.
Here Are Some Things You Can Do To Help Your Loved One:
- Help them get treatment and encourage them to stay in treatment
- Remember that their beliefs or hallucinations seem very real to them
- Tell them that you acknowledge that everyone has the right to see things their way
- Be respectful, supportive, and kind without tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior
- Check to see if there are any support groups in your area
Some symptoms require immediate emergency care. If your loved one is thinking about harming themselves or others or attempting suicide, seek help right away:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or text the Crisis Text Line .
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Family Education And Support
Educational programs for family members, significant others, and friends offer instruction about schizophrenia symptoms and treatments, and strategies for assisting the person with the illness. Increasing key supporters understanding of psychotic symptoms, treatment options, and the course of recovery can lessen their distress, bolster coping and empowerment, and strengthen their capacity to offer effective assistance. Family-based services may be provided on an individual basis or through multi-family workshops and support groups. For more information about family-based services in your area, you can visit the family education and support groups page on the National Alliance on Mental Illness website.
Distorted Reality: What To Do About Early Signs Of Psychosis
Seeing, hearing or perceiving things that arent really there may seem like something to hide, but seeking help early can make a big difference.
Maybe its a glimpse of a person that no one else seems to see. Or hearing voices that no one else seems to hear. Or an overwhelming feeling that the innocent gesture of someone on the street actually means something sinister.
These experiences, and others that make it feel like reality is cracking, can be embarrassing, or even frightening.
They can also be the first signs that someone is experiencing a mental health symptom called psychosis.
This means they may be heading for one of several mental health conditions that include it as a symptom, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Or in some cases, it may reflect a medical condition.
But if someone gets proper help in the early months of having these experiences when they can still understand that somethings not right with the way theyre experiencing the world they may be able to avoid getting worse.
Since these symptoms most often start in the teen and young adult years, when the brain is changing and maturing, early action can make a major difference, says Stephan Taylor, M.D., who leads a team at Michigan Medicine that specializes in early care for psychosis.
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What Risks And Complications Can Schizophrenia Cause
Research suggests that people with serious mental illness , such as schizophrenia, have a shorter life expectancy. People with mental illness may die 15 to 20 years earlier than the general population. This may because people who live with SMI are at higher risk of having a range of health issues. Such as being overweight, having heart disease, smoking and diabetes.
Because of these issues, NICE recommends that when you start taking antipsychotic medication, your doctor should do a full range of physical health checks. This should include weight, blood pressure and other blood tests. These checks should be repeated regularly.
Mental health professionals are responsible for doing these checks for the first year of treatment. Responsibility may then pass to your GP. Your doctor or mental health team should offer you a programme which combines healthy eating and physical health checks. You should be supported by a healthcare professional to help stop smoking.
The risk of suicide is increased for people with schizophrenia. Research indicates that around 513% of people who live with with schizophrenia die by suicide.
Research has found that the increased risk is not usually because of positive symptoms. The risk of suicide is associated more to affective symptoms, such as low mood.
Key risk factors for suicide include:
- previous suicide attempts,
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Functional Equivalence And Childhood Schizophrenia
If your child does not meet the listing in the Blue Book for psychotic disorders, then the SSA will look at whether your childâs psychotic disorder is nevertheless so serious that it âfunctionally equalsâ the disability listings.
In so doing, the SSA will evaluate your childâs everyday activities using six domains of functioning. These domains include: gathering and processing information, focusing on tasks, working with others, moving objects around, personal care, and general well-being. To establish disability, your child must be markedly limitation in two domains or extremely limited in one domain of functioning. A marked limitation is described as more than moderate but less than extreme.
Alternatively, in a second case, the SSA did find a child with a psychotic disorder to be disabled. The SSA found the child was markedly limited in the domains of personal self-care and focusing on tasks. This ten-year old child rapidly changed her moods and would sometimes isolate herself in the classroom by crying and refusing to answer questions. Significantly, the child had been hospitalized for 10 days after hearing the voices of animals telling her to harm herself. The child also would speak to imaginary friends, would often talk in a baby-type voice, and she had received Câs, Dâs, and Fâs in her academic studies.
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Can Schizophrenia Be Treated
Yes. The main types of treatment are counseling and medicines to lessen or stop psychotic symptoms. Medicines will control psychotic symptoms in most people. In milder cases of schizophrenia, medications may not be needed. Medicines can:
- Lessen or stop hallucinations
- Help the person tell the difference between hallucinations and the real world
- Lessen or stop false beliefs
- Lessen feelings of confusion
- Help the person think more clearly
Lessening of these symptoms can help the person resume his or her normal lifestyle and activities. Medicines for schizophrenia need to be taken regularly, even after symptoms are gone. Some people with schizophrenia will stop taking their medicine because they believe the medicine is no longer needed, or they dislike the medication’s side effects. Psychotic symptoms often return when medication is stopped. Do not stop taking medicine without the advice of your healthcare provider.
Discuss any concerns you have about side effects with your healthcare provider.
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Tip : Build Your Support Network
To better support and care for someone with schizophrenia, you need to find help, encouragement, and understanding from others. The more support you have, the better it will be for both you and your loved one.
Recognize your own limits. Be realistic about the level of support and care you can provide. You cant do it all, and you wont be much help to a loved one if youre exhausted, so seek help where you can.
Join a support group. Meeting others who know first-hand what youre going through can help reduce feelings of isolation and fear. Support groups provide an invaluable venue for the relatives of people with schizophrenia to share experiences, advice, and information.
Turn to trusted friends and family members. Ask loved ones if you can call on them for support. Most people will be flattered by your request.
Seek out new friends. If you dont feel that you have anyone to turn to, its never too late to build new friendships and improve your support network.
Take advantage of support services. Ask your loved ones doctor or therapist about respite services and other support available in your area, or contact local hospitals and mental health clinics.