Wednesday, June 19, 2024

What Is It Like To Have Schizophrenia

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Encourage Your Loved One To Keep Up With Their Treatment And Recovery Plan

This is very important! You are not responsible for your loved ones treatment , but you can support them. Schizophrenia can make it difficult for people to make and go to appointments and follow their treatment plan. With your loved ones permission, you may choose to help by reminding them of appointments, taking them to appointments, or whatever helps in your situation. If your loved one isnt happy with their treatment or would like to try a new approach, you can encourage them to talk with their care team, like their doctor or mental health teamit can be dangerous to stop or change a treatment without a doctors support.

Treatment can be a difficult area for loved ones. Its hard to see someone you love in pain. You might be scared of the things your loved one is experiencing. You want to help. But in order for any treatment to work, your loved one needs to be active in their care. Forcing or threatening treatment generally doesnt work and can often hurt everyone involved. In most cases, anyone 19 years of age and older and not at risk of harm is free to make their own choices. And their choices may include refusing treatment or choosing a treatment that you disagree with. It helps everyone if you can be respectful and keep honest communication open between you. You can learn more about dealing with this situation in Q&A: An adult in my life seems ill and wont find help. What can I do?.

What Can I Do To Manage Schizophrenia

People deal with their experience in different ways. You might need to try different things before finding something that works.

Support groups

You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support. Hearing about the experiences of others can help you feel understood. This may help you feel less alone and boost your self-confidence.

You might be able to find a local group by searching online. Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area, or get help to set up your own support group if you follow this link:

Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.

Recovery College

Recovery colleges are part of the NHS. They offer free courses about mental health to help you manage your experiences. They can help you to take control of your life and become an expert in your own wellbeing and recovery. You can usually self-refer to a recovery college. But the college may tell your care team.

Unfortunately, recovery colleges are not available in all areas. To see if there is a recovery college in your area you can use a search engine such as Google. Or you can call our advice service on 0808 801 0525 for more information.

Peer support through the NHS

  • side effects,
  • recognising and coping with symptoms,
  • what to do in a crisis,
  • meeting other people who can support you, and recovery.

Self-management techniques

What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia And How Is It Diagnosed

How is schizophrenia diagnosed?

Only a psychiatrist can diagnose you with schizophrenia after a full psychiatric assessment. You may have to see the psychiatrist a few times before they diagnose you. This is because they need to see how often you are experiencing symptoms.

There are currently no blood tests or scans that can prove if you have schizophrenia. So, psychiatrists use manuals to diagnose schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

The 2 main manuals used by medical professionals are the:

  • International Classification of Diseases which is produced by the World Health Organisation , or
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual which is produced by the American Psychiatric Association .

NHS doctors use the ICD-10.

The manuals explain which symptoms should be present, and for how long for you to receive a diagnosis. For example, according to the NHS you need to be hearing voices for at least 1 month before you can be diagnosed. Mental health professionals may say you have psychosis before they diagnose you with schizophrenia.

What is the future of diagnosis in schizophrenia?There are many research studies being conducted across the world on how to better diagnose schizophrenia. For example, a recent study found through looking at images of the brain, there may be different sub-types of schizophrenia.

What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?

The symptoms of schizophrenia are commonly described as positive symptoms or negative symptoms. This doesnt mean that they are good or bad.

Take Care Of Yourself Too

Female, Twenty Something, Schizophrenic, GSOH ...

As a family member, its important to take care of yourself. Try to maintain your regular schedule and activities, such as your exercise routine and hobbies. Ask another family member or good friend to provide help with caregiving, especially in the early days of your loved one’s illness. If you need help balancing time for self-care with caregiving duties, check out the BC Schizophrenia Societys Family Respite Program.

What Its Really Like To Live With Schizophrenia

“I’m hallucinating to some degree 90 percent of the time.”

Rachel Star Withers, 30, was diagnosed with schizophrenia in her early twenties. She moves through the world in the company of hallucinations no one else can see or hear. Here, she explains how schizophrenia has affected her life and why she wont let it stop her from living it to the fullest.

The Hallucinations Started Early As a kid, I thought everyone saw the same monsters under the bed that I did. It wasnt until I was around 16 and mentioned them to some friends that I realized I was alone on this. When I was around 18, in addition to the hallucinations, I became depressed and suicidal. I went to a doctor who told me I was depressed but didnt mention schizophrenia, probably because I hadnt explained the full extent of my symptoms; I was scared I would be sent away if I did. It wasnt until I was around 22 that a different doctor told me I had pretty advanced paranoid schizophrenia.

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:

Accommodations For Schizophrenia At School And Work

Once you receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, you may be eligible for certain accommodations at your school or work.

For grades K-12, students with a  mental illness may be eligible for an Individualized Education Program or a 504 plan that will provide accommodations to help them succeed.5

College, graduate school, or technical school students can apply through the organizations version of the office of disability services to receive academic, residential, or other accommodations. People with schizophrenia may also qualify to receive mental health services on campus.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires employers to make accommodations within reason for you to be able to perform your job. If youre searching for employment, you may qualify to receive vocational rehabilitation services from your state agency.6

If you think you might have schizophrenia and are unsure of what to do, reach out to your doctor or a friend or family member and share your thinking with them. Together you can create a plan to get you the best support and treatment for you.

  • NAMI. Schizophrenia. Available online at:. Accessed 9/28/18.
  • American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2013.
  • Mayo Clinic. Schizophrenia. Available online at: . Accessed 09/28/18.
  • World Health Organisation. Premature death among people with severe mental disorders. Available online at: . Accessed 09/28/18.
  • What Negative Schizophrenia Symptoms Are Like

    While the positive symptoms may come to mind when you think of schizophrenia, the negative symptoms are often the most debilitating, leading people to drop out of work, school, and everything that matters to them in life, Weinstein points out.

    âNegative symptoms are the absence of a certain oomph in life, the absence of normal interest and drive and motivations,â Margolis says. âAt its most extreme, that can be someone who barely talks, who just sits in home doing little or nothing.â

    âWhen I looked at the world around me, it was like I was watching TV,â Dickson says. âIt feels like youâre totally cut off.â He remembers reading a description of the 2001 movie A Beautiful Mind, about the mathematician John Nash, who battled schizophrenia for decades: âIt said that Nash lived a âghostlike existence,â and I definitely can associate with that. You feel helpless, you lose your sense of self.â

    For Collins, her inability to interact with the world was linked with her perception issues. âIf I tried to walk across the room, it would feel like my were falling through the floor,â she says. âThe boundaries keep shifting and dissolving so your ability to function physically, cognitively, and emotionally is totally gone. I couldnât even speak for years. It was like my voice got swallowed up deep down inside. I called it being in the black box: I wanted to get out, but I couldnât get out of the traffic jam that was in my head.â

    What About Side Effects

    • You may have side effects from some medications, so your healthcare provider may have you try several different medications before finding the one that works best

    • So if a side effect is bothering you, tell your healthcare provider. They may want to change your medication

    • Finding the right medication is important, and following your healthcare provider’s instructions can help you manage your schizophrenia

    Real People Real Emotions

    Psychiatrist Samuel Keith, MD, expressed the plight of a person with schizophrenia very well:

    “Real people with real feelings get schizophrenia. One should never underestimate the depth of their pain, even though the illness itself may diminish their ability to convey it.As one of my own patients told me, ‘Whatever this is that I have, I feel like Im a caterpillar in a cocoon, and Im never going to get the chance to be a butterfly.’

    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 , 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 .

    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.

    Accepting That You Need Help For Schizophrenia


    Getting a diagnosis of schizophrenia can feel overwhelming for anyone. If youve managed your mental health on your own until now, it can be difficult to accept that you need a treatment team and to feel better. The sooner you get help for schizophrenia, the less likely you are to experience more serious symptoms and a steep decline in your mental and physical health.

    If youre experiencing symptoms, such as paranoia or other delusions, you might find that you feel suspicious of giving anyone personal information or taking medication that is unfamiliar to you. Its your treatment teams job to help you feel safe and heard, so never hesitate to express your concerns. Sometimes bringing along a loved one with you to appointments is helpful. That way you can ask questions and give your focus to the therapist. Have your family member or friend assist by taking notes you can review later if necessary.

    Its also important to keep taking medication when you feel better. Symptoms will return and likely worsen if you stop medication or do not take it as prescribed.  Stopping medication also puts you at risk for self-medicating with drugs or alcohol which can make your symptoms much worse.

    How To Tell Others About Your Diagnosis

    After you receive a diagnosis of schizophrenia, you may have fears or concerns about how others will react. The odds are that if your symptoms have gone untreated for some time, friends, family, and coworkers may already know that you are struggling with a mental health challenge.

    While your health informationand conversations between you and your therapistare private, having a solid support system can be an important part of treating schizophrenia successfully. For instance, friends and family who are made aware of the signs that your mental health is declining may be able to intervene in a way that can make it less likely for you to experience a severe relapse of symptoms. Your therapist can help you create a plan for communicating your diagnosis with loved ones and help you think about what information youll need to give your employer.

    What It’s Like To Live Well With Schizophrenia

    Alexandra Benisek

    âI like the fact that, through my work, Iâve been able to really break down the stigma,â says Lisa Guardiola, vice president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness affiliate in the south suburbs of Chicago. Guardiola, along with 20 million people worldwide, has . Through her recovery and volunteer work, sheâs been able to inspire herself and others. âEven though I have a debilitating mental illness, I can live a productive life — a fulfilling and happy life.â

    But her road to recovery took time. From a young age, Guardiola remembers showing signs of schizophrenia. She heard voices, or auditory hallucinations. It was hard for her to socialize and form .

    When her symptoms peaked after high school, Guardiolaâs family checked her into a hospital. It was there, in 2004, that doctors diagnosed Guardiola with paranoid schizophrenia.

    Since then, Guardiola has been able to lead a successful life helping others manage symptoms of schizophrenia. âI derive a sense of pride from what I do. It gives me an opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful people in the community,â she says. âIt has also provided me the opportunity to share my story.â

    ‘my Reaction Was Curiosity’

    Fourteen years ago, around her 30th birthday, Tsai heard a voice in her head for the first time a male voice. My reaction was curiosity, she says. If someone were to come up to me and start talking to me, I would be social and friendly, so that was my attitude and mind-set: Who is that talking to me? Even though I only heard the voice briefly, it carried through the rest of my experience. I would hear voices from friends and family, nice voices. I realize that other people may not be as fortunate when they have schizophrenia; they could hear voices that are violent or mean. I was very lucky that my experience with voices was fairly pleasant and was more like a fun thing at times, but then, I would hesitate and say, Wait! This is unusual.

    Tsai began to confide in a few friends that something was amiss. They were supportive, she says. There is a saying, When you have cancer, people bring you cake and when you have a mental illness, people run away. But I didnt experience that at all.

    Still, her friends struggled to figure out how to respond. One friend asked if we could go to the doctor together, Tsai says. That really helped. Having me be part of the solution, asking for my opinion that went well for me.

    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:

    Negative Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

    The negative symptoms of schizophrenia can often appear several years before somebody experiences their first acute schizophrenic episode.

    These initial negative symptoms are often referred to as the prodromal period of schizophrenia.

    Symptoms during the prodromal period usually appear gradually and slowly get worse.

    They include the person becoming more socially withdrawn and increasingly not caring about their appearance and personal hygiene.

    It can be difficult to tell whether the symptoms are part of the development of schizophrenia or caused by something else.

    Negative symptoms experienced by people living with schizophrenia include:

    • losing interest and motivation in life and activities, including relationships and sex
    • lack of concentration, not wanting to leave the house, and changes in sleeping patterns
    • being less likely to initiate conversations and feeling uncomfortable with people, or feeling there’s nothing to say

    The negative symptoms of schizophrenia can often lead to relationship problems with friends and family as they can sometimes be mistaken for deliberate laziness or rudeness.

    What Are The Symptoms Of Schizophrenia

    People diagnosed with schizophrenia may display a variety of symptoms. These symptoms will often come and go, and in some cases, the individual may learn how to deal with the symptoms, so they are not noticeable. There are three categories of symptoms: positive symptoms, negative symptoms and cognitive symptoms.Positive symptoms include:

    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.

    Schizophrenia Schizoaffective Disorder And What Its Like To Be Psychotic

    Schizophrenia What It Feels Like

    I recently read a journal entry I wrote shortly after I had my schizophrenic psychotic episode. I would like to find the journal I kept during my psychotic episode, but from what I remember, it probably wouldnt make any sense. I do know that I covered the covers of the journal with stickers, something I wouldnt normally do. I also communicated with the people who I thought were following me by writing to them through my journal. So, there you have it, during my psychotic episode I spent a lot of time writing in a journal. Sounds pretty dangerous, huh?

    Its really hard for me, now, to put into words what exactly what the psychotic episode was like for me as a person with schizoaffective disorder. This happened almost 17 years ago. But, Im trying. I remember, especially from reading the journal written when the incident was fresh in my mind, about a parallel world that zoomed in and out of reality. Not only did I think people were following me, but that the people I saw on the street were actors sent by them to give me a message. I dont remember what the message was, but I do remember going up to random people on the street and talking to them. I didnt shout at them or threaten them, and when they made it clear they wanted out of the conversation I left them alone. So I was a polite schizophrenic psychotic.

    What Causes Psychosis

    Anne Cooke, clinical psychologist and lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University explains: “The term psychosis is sometimes used to refer to experiences like: hearing voices when there is no one there , holding beliefs that others do not share , or appearing out of touch with reality.”

    This may mean seeing things which others don’t, experiencing sensations that have no cause, hearing voices or having false beliefs.

    Psychotic episodes are often assumed to be the result of a mental health problem such as or bipolar disorder, but this isn’t always the case.

    “They can often be a reaction to trauma, abuse or deprivation,” Cooke adds.

    “Whilst for some, experiences such as hearing voices or feeling paranoid can be very distressing and even life-changing,” she explains. “For many people, though not all, experiences such as hearing voices or feeling paranoid are short-lived. Even people who continue to experience them nevertheless often lead happy and successful lives.”

    “Some people find it useful to think of themselves as having an illness. Others prefer to think of their problems as, for example, an aspect of their personality which sometimes gets them into trouble but which they would not want to be without.”

    There are a lot of misunderstandings surrounding the term psychosis and people often think the word psychotic means dangerous, which is not true.

    “It is a myth that people who have these experiences are much more likely than others to be violent,” Cooke says.

    How Families Can Help

    Usually an individual who has been released from treatment for schizophrenia will be released into the hands of family members. If you are caring for a family member with the illness, it is important to know how to handle the illness. A physician may ask family members to talk to a therapist, who will teach family members coping strategies. Family members may also learn how to make sure a loved one knows how to stay on the and continue with treatment. Families should have all contact numbers and know where to take the individual for outpatient services and family services.Self-help groups are available for both individuals with and their families. Your physician can usually point you to the best self-help groups in your area. It often helps to know there are others who are going through the same or similar circumstance. Knowing there are others with the same illness can help make you feel less isolated. You can ask questions and learn what works best for them, and you can even learn new methods to cope with schizophrenia.

    For more on the topic of Living with Schizophrenia, weâve included the following expert consensus documents as reference materials:

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