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How Do People Get Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia Research And Statistics

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The exact prevalence of schizophrenia is hard to measures, but the NIMH estimates that schizophrenia affects between 0.25 and 0.64 percent of U.S. adults, while the NAMI has put it closer to 1 percent.

Men typically start to show symptoms of schizophrenia in their late teens or early twenties. Women tend to show symptoms a bit later, usually in their late twenties or early thirties.

Men are about 1.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia than women.

Research has found that Black men are up to 2.4 times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia, but more research is needed to determine if their incidence of disease is actually higher or if other factors, such as racial or testing biases, are contributing to the disparity.

Schizophrenia can occur at any age, but its less commonly diagnosed for the first time in a person older than 40 or younger than 12.

How Common Is This Condition

Here are some statistics about how common schizophrenia is worldwide:

  • New cases: There are about 2.77 million new schizophrenia diagnoses every year worldwide.
  • Average number of worldwide cases: There are about 22.1 million cases globally at any time .
  • Odds of developing it at some point in your lifetime: About 0.85% of the global population will experience schizophrenia at some point in their life.

What Medications Or Treatments Are Used

Treating schizophrenia and related conditions typically involves multiple methods. Those methods can happen in combinations or steps.

Medications

There are two main types of medications that treat schizophrenia.

  • Typical antipsychotics. Also known as first-generation antipsychotics, these medications block how your brain uses dopamine, a chemical your brain uses for cell-to-cell communication.
  • Atypical antipsychotics. These medications, also called second-generation antipsychotics, work differently from first-generation antipsychotics. These block both dopamine and serotonin, two key communication chemicals in your brain. Clozapine is a particularly effective medication that can treat symptoms of schizophrenia when other drugs dont work. However, it has a rare serious side effect that requires frequent blood monitoring to keep people safe, which is why healthcare providers usually recommend other antipsychotics first.

There are other medications your healthcare provider might also prescribe to treat other symptoms that happen alongside or because of your schizophrenia symptoms. They might also prescribe medications to help reduce side effects of antipsychotic medications such as tremors.

In general, your healthcare provider is the best person to talk to about the medications they might prescribe. They can give you more specific information related to your specific situation, including your life circumstances, medical history and personal preferences.

Psychotherapy

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What Is The Long

Without ongoing care, people with schizophrenia can be hospitalized multiple times, lose their jobs and housing, and fall out of touch with their families.

Early treatment is vital to ensuring those with psychotic disorders remain as functional as possible, says Dr. Barnett. Sometimes, it takes multiple attempts to find a medication that is effective without causing side effects, so patience is also important.

Those with psychotic disorders need to have a clear idea about how to maintain their health by taking their medications, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and accessing community support. This will help them function better in society and maintain their independence.

The road to diagnosis, treatment and stability can be a challenging one. Along the way, Dr. Barnett recommends getting education and support from national organizations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness , Recovery International and Emotions Anonymous.

To learn about local services, families should reach out to their county mental health board, local hospital or mental health center.

Why Do Men Develop Schizophrenia Before Women

Schizophrenia

This is not an easy question to answer. Scientific researchers have come up with a few possibilities, though nothing has been proven as the main reason why men develop schizophrenia earlier than women do. Research, though, is showing a connection between DNA modifications and early brain development.

Other research suggestsa link between estrogen, a female sex hormone, and schizophrenia. Some women are first diagnosed with schizophrenia after menopause, the same time their estrogen levels drop. Estrogen also seems to have a protective effect, shielding women from the severity of this illness.

Researchers are conducting randomized clinical trials to study how well estrogen works in conjunction with antipsychotic medication in both men and women with schizophrenia.

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Who Is A Good Candidate For Ect

Antipsychotic drugs are the first-line treatment for schizophrenia. Typical antipsychotics include chlorpromazine, fluphenazine, and haloperidol. Atypical antipsychotics, which some people think have a better side effect profile, include clozapine and risperidone.

Yet, up to 30% of people with schizophrenia do not experience a satisfactory improvement in their symptoms after taking antipsychotic drugs. In these cases, ECT may be used alongside the medication.

In other words, your doctor probably wont suggest ECT unless youve tried a few medications and they have not helped. In addition, your doctor might recommend other interventions, such as cognitive behavioral therapy , before ECT.

The APA suggests that combining antipsychotic medication and ECT might help people who have severe symptoms of schizophrenia, such as catatonia or suicidal behavior. If ECT helps, it can be used on a regular maintenance basis.

Brain stimulation therapies use electricity or magnets to adjust brain chemistry and function. Although ECT is the most commonly used brain stimulation therapy for schizophrenia, others are available.

How Do People With Schizophrenia Act

  • Meet them on their level:Your loved one has schizophrenia even when you cant see their symptoms. It can be more difficult for them to stay focused and concentrated, finish tasks, or follow through on simple household chores and personal hygiene basics. Be patient, and remember to adjust expectations.
  • Assess their housing situation:Considering the examples below can help you determine what is best and if you have enough resources on hand to safely support your loved one.

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Does My Child Have Schizophrenia

Early signs of schizophrenia can be hard to detect because they often overlap with common adolescent behavior. Moreover, these symptoms in people of any age group do not necessarily mean that a person will develop schizophrenia.

These symptoms can be disruptive though, and they may indicate something worrisome is going on, even if it isn’t schizophrenia. If you or your child are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should make an appointment with a healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.

Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating brain and behavior disorder affecting how one thinks, feels and acts. People with schizophrenia can have trouble distinguishing reality from fantasy, expressing and managing normal emotions and making decisions. Thought processes may also be disorganized and the motivation to engage in lifes activities may be blunted. Those with the condition may hear imaginary voices and believe others are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts or plotting to harm them.

While schizophrenia is a chronic disorder, it can be treated with medication, psychological and social treatments, substantially improving the lives of people with the condition.

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Schizophrenia affects men and women equally. It occurs at similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30.

Learn more about childhood-onset schizophrenia from this expert researcher:

Find answers to more questions about Schizophrenia in our Ask the Expert section.

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What Causes Schizophrenia And Its Spectrum Of Conditions

Schizophrenia and the related spectrum of conditions dont have a single confirmed cause. Several factors and circumstances increase a persons risk of developing it, but none of them is a guarantee that youll eventually have it.

Experts suspect schizophrenia happens for different reasons. The three main reasons include:

  • Imbalances in chemical signals your brain uses for cell-to-cell communication.
  • Brain development problems before birth.
  • Loss of connections between different areas of your brain.

Risk factors

While there arent any confirmed causes of schizophrenia, there are several factors and circumstances that researchers have connected to the condition.

Community Mental Health Team

If a diagnosis of schizophrenia is suspected, the GP should refer you to your local community mental health team .

CMHTs are made up of different mental health professionals who support people with complex mental health conditions.

A member of the CMHT team, usually a psychiatrist or a specialist nurse, will carry out a more detailed assessment of your symptoms. Theyll also want to know your personal history and current circumstances.

To make a diagnosis, most mental healthcare professionals use a diagnostic checklist.

Schizophrenia can usually be diagnosed if:

  • youve experienced 1 or more of the following symptoms most of the time for a month: delusions, hallucinations, hearing voices, incoherent speech, or negative symptoms, such as a flattening of emotions
  • your symptoms have had a significant impact on your ability to work, study or perform daily tasks
  • all other possible causes, such as recreational drug use or bipolar disorder, have been ruled out

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What Can Family Friends And Partners Do To Help

Friends, relatives and partners have a vital role in helping people with schizophrenia recover, and make a relapse less likely.

Do not blame the person with schizophrenia or tell them to pull themselves together, or blame other people. Its important to stay positive and supportive when dealing with a friend or loved ones mental illness.

As well as supporting the person with schizophrenia, you may want to get support to cope with your own feelings. Several voluntary organisations provide help and support for carers.

Friends and family should try to understand what schizophrenia is, how it affects people, and how they can help. You can provide emotional and practical support, and encourage people to get appropriate support and treatment.

As part of someones treatment, you may be offered family therapy. This can provide information and support for the person with schizophrenia and their family.

Friends and family can play a major role by monitoring the persons mental state, watching out for any signs of relapse, and encouraging them to take their medication and attend medical appointments.

If youre the nearest relative of a person who has schizophrenia, you have certain rights that can be used to protect the patients interests.

These include requesting that the local social services authority ask an approved mental health professional to consider whether the person with schizophrenia should be detained in hospital.

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What If I Am Not Happy With My Treatment

Undifferentiated Schizophrenia

If you are not happy with your treatment you can:

  • talk to your doctor about your treatment options,
  • ask for a second opinion,
  • get an advocate to help you speak to your doctor,
  • contact Patient Advice and Liaison Service and see whether they can help, or
  • make a complaint.

There is more information about these options below.

Treatment options

You should first speak to your doctor about your treatment. Explain why you are not happy with it. You could ask what other treatments you could try.

Tell your doctor if there is a type of treatment that you would like to try. Doctors should listen to your preference. If you are not given this treatment, ask your doctor to explain why it is not suitable for you.

Second opinion

A second opinion means that you would like a different doctor to give their opinion about what treatment you should have. You can also ask for a second opinion if you disagree with your diagnosis.

You dont have a right to a second opinion. But your doctor should listen to your reason for wanting a second opinion.

Advocacy

An advocate is independent from the mental health service. They are free to use. They can be useful if you find it difficult to get your views heard.

There are different types of advocates available. Community advocates can support you to get a health professional to listen to your concerns. And help you to get the treatment that you would like.

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service

Complaints

You can find out more about:

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Schizophrenia Myths And Facts

Myth: People with schizophrenia have more than one personality.

One of the biggest myths about schizophrenia is that people with schizophrenia have split, or multiple, personalities.

Fact: Having multiple personalities, or split personalities, is a symptom of a different mental illness called dissociative identity disorder.

Experts say that the media is partially responsible for some public misconceptions about schizophrenia.

Myth: People who have schizophrenia are dangerous.

Movies and television shows often perpetuate the myth that all people with schizophrenia are dangerous. This type of misunderstanding can be harmful for people with schizophrenia.

Fact: Most people with schizophrenia are not dangerous to others.

Some people with schizophrenia may have violent outbursts, and theres a small subset of people with schizophrenia who can be dangerous.

The risk of harm to others is increased in people who are not currently in treatment, as well as people who are acutely psychotic, often with paranoid or other delusions involving others potentially harming them in some way.

Overall, the rate of violence committed by people with schizophrenia is very small in fact, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence as opposed to perpetrators.

As with everyone, when a person with schizophrenia uses drugs or alcohol, the risk of violence directed toward others increases.

What If I Am A Carer Friend Or Relative

It can be distressing if you are a carer, friend or relative of someone who has schizophrenia. You can get support.

How can I get support for myself?

You can do the following.

  • Speak to your GP about medication and talking therapies for yourself.
  • Speak to your relatives care team about family intervention. For more information about family intervention see the further up this page.
  • Speak to your relatives care team about a carers assessment.
  • Ask for a carers assessment.
  • Join a carers service. They are free and available in most areas.
  • Join a carers support group for emotional and practical support. Or set up your own.

What is a carers assessment?NICE guidelines state that you should be given your own assessment through the community mental health team to work out what effect your caring role is having on your health. And what support you need. Such as practical support and emergency support.

The CMHT should tell you about your right to have a carers assessment through your local authority. To get a carers assessment you need to contact your local authority.

How do I get support from my peers?You can get peer support through carer support services or carers groups. You can search for local groups in your area by using a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525. They will search for you.

How can I support the person I care for?

You can do the following.

There is no definition for what high risk means. It could include:

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Social Isolation A Major Problem

While these psychotic symptoms are more alarming, other symptoms reinforce the alienation of people with schizophrenia. They are often unable to participate in normal social events or conversations, and lack sufficient motivation for simple activities like bathing or cooking. In addition, sufferers lack the insight to recognise how their inappropriate behaviour appears to others.

When Schizophrenia Symptoms Start

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Symptoms usually start to develop in early adulthood, between late adolescence and the early 30s. The disorder typically becomes evident slightly earlier in men than in women. Symptoms often emerge between late adolescence and the early 20s in men and between the early 20s and the early 30s in women.

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Planning For The Future

Relapse prevention plan

A relapse is when, after you recover from an episode of psychosis, your symptoms return and you experience another episode.

A relapse prevention plan is a powerful tool for staying well and avoiding a worsening of your mental health issue. Making a plan involves:

  • identifying your triggers: what events or situations could set your symptoms off?
  • identifying your warning signs: what changes in your thinking, emotions and behaviour signal the early signs of psychosis?
  • planning responses: what will you do to cope or seek help when you experience triggers & warning signs?
  • listing support people: who will you call when you experience triggers & warning signs?

Having a relapse prevention can make you and the people who care for you feel more secure, even if you never have to use it.

You can read more about relapse prevention plans at Orygen and Here to Help.

Advance care directives

Because of the way schizophrenia affects thinking, feeling and behaviour, if your symptoms worsen at some time in the future, you may not be able to make good decisions about your care. It can also be hard for the people around you to know whats best for you when the situation is intense and confusing.

An advance care directive is your instructions for what you want to happen if you cant make your own choices, and who you authorise to make decisions for you.

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.

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