Schizophrenia Is A Serious Mental Illness
One definition of schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that messes with perception, thoughts, feelings, cognitive processing, and behavior. Some professionals prefer to use the term SMI rather than the official name schizophrenia.
The term SMI is considered by some to be clearer and more logical.
- Schizophrenia is actually a group of symptoms and features rather than a single illness
- The illness is unique to each individualno two people experience it the same
- It doesnt carry the emotional, often negative, connotation that schizophrenia does
One thing that is consistent for everyone living with it: schizophrenia interferes in life. It decreases someones functioning in one or more life areas such as
Schizophrenia Myths And Facts
Myth: People with schizophrenia have split, or multiple, personalities.
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.
When people with schizophrenia use drugs or alcohol, the risk of violence directed toward others is increased.
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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Symptoms In Children And Teens
When schizophrenia appears before the age of 18, it is referred to as early-onset schizophrenia. Childhood-onset schizophrenia, which occurs prior to age 13, is also possible, but it is considered very rare.
The earliest signs that may appear in childhood or adolescence include strange thoughts, problems differentiating between reality and imagination, difficulty concentrating, extreme moodiness, social withdrawal, and odd behaviors.
Symptoms in children are the same as in adults, but kids are more likely to have auditory hallucinations. Thought disorder and delusions do not emerge until adolescence or young adulthood.
What Causes Schizophrenia
The exact cause of schizophrenia isnât known. But like cancer and diabetes, schizophrenia is a real illness with a biological basis. Researchers have uncovered a number of things that appear to make someone more likely to get schizophrenia, including:
- Genetics : Schizophrenia can run in families, which means a greater likelihood to have schizophrenia may be passed on from parents to their children.
- Brain chemistry and circuits: People with schizophrenia may not be able to regulate brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that control certain pathways, or “circuits,” of nerve cells that affect thinking and behavior.
- Brain abnormality: Research has found abnormal brain structure in people with schizophrenia. But this doesnât apply to all people with schizophrenia. It can affect people without the disease.
- Environment: Things like viral infections, exposure to toxins like , or highly stressful situations may trigger schizophrenia in people whose genes make them more likely to get the disorder. Schizophrenia more often surfaces when the body is having hormonal and physical changes, like those that happen during the teen and young adult years.
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What Can I Do About It
While there is no cure for schizophrenia, people can and do recover. Recovery may mean learning to reduce the impact of problems, work around challenges, or maintain wellness. Most people use some combination of the following treatments and supports.
Some people need to spend time in hospital if they experience a severe episode of psychosis. This is a time to figure out the best treatment for you and begin your journey to health. Before you leave the hospital, care providers should help you map out the service providers who will be involved in your care and support your recovery.
Managing Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders
Schizophrenia is typically treated as a team effort among the individual, their friends and family, medical professionals, mental health experts, and community supporters.
In addition to formal treatment involving medication and therapies, there are ways to make living with schizophrenia more manageable.
Lifestyle practices a person with schizophrenia can adopt include:
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet
- Getting regular exercise
- Getting plenty of sleep, with a healthy sleep routine
- Stopping or quitting smoking, drinking alcohol, and other substance use
- Spending time with family and friends
- Doing mindfulness and relaxation exercises and techniques
- Engaging in healthy activities they enjoy that help reduce daily stress
Friends and family can help a loved one with schizophrenia by:
- Helping them to find and start treatment
- Encouraging them to stay in treatment
- Being respectful, supportive, and kind while setting and enforcing boundaries, including not tolerating dangerous or inappropriate behavior
- Looking for local or online support groups that can be helpful for the individual and their loved ones
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When Should I See My Healthcare Provider
You should see your healthcare provider as recommended. You should also see them if you notice a change in your symptoms, such as symptoms getting worse even if youre taking your medication. You can also see them if side effects of your medication are causing disruptions in your life. Your healthcare provider can sometimes recommend alternative medications or treatments that might better treat your condition without causing those same effects.
When should I go to ER?
You should go to the ER or call 911 if you have thoughts about harming yourself, including thoughts of suicide, or about harming others. If you have thoughts like this, you can call any of the following:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline . To call this line, dial 1.800.273.TALK .
- Local crisis lines. Mental health organizations and centers in your area may offer resources and help through crisis lines.
- 911 : You should call 911 if you feel like youre in immediate danger of harming yourself. Operators and dispatchers for 911 lines can often help people in immediate danger because of a severe mental crisis and send first responders to assist.
Brain Circuitry In Schizophrenia
Information processing in the brain is a complex task, and even simple sensory information, such as recognizing a sight or a sound, engages circuits of cells in multiple regions of the brain. Scientists early in the 20th century imagined that brain function occurred in discrete steps along a linear stream of information flow. However, the recent emergence of brain imaging as an important tool for understanding the neuroscience of cognition and emotion has demonstrated that the brain operates more like a parallel processing computer with feed-forward and feedback circuitry that manages information in distributed and overlapping processing modules working in parallel. Thus, abnormal function in one brain region will have functional ripple effects in other regions, and abnormal sharing of information between regions, perhaps because of problems in the connectional wiring, can result in abnormal behavior even if individual modules are functionally intact.
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Limitations Of The Review
Limitations of this literature review include single-reviewer screening and extraction of articles, restriction of searches to articles published from 2005 onwards and including only articles written in the English language, while no geographical restrictions were applied. The search strategy did not include terms for first-episode psychosis, which may have resulted in some studies including schizophrenia subgroups within this broader population being missed. Further, the results of this review are limited by use of search terms related to early, rather than searching for all studies conducted in schizophrenia. While we attempted to mitigate this by running iterative searches to include additional terminology identified through the review, there is the potential for over- or under-representation of the terms identified in the results depending on whether they were used as search terms themselves. Additionally, the lack of clarity provided in some publications regarding diagnoses may mean that some studies with mixed schizophrenia disorder populations were inadvertently included in the review. For example, studies using the term DSM-IV for schizophrenia despite later referring to a mixture of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and schizophreniform patients were excluded, whereas those simply stating DSM-IV for schizophrenia were included.
Schizophrenia In The Dsm
The DSM-5 definition of schizophrenia doesnt so much as define the disorder in succinct terms as it does describe its features. Because of its complexity, there isnt a single cut-and-dried definition of schizophrenia.
Schizophrenia is an intricate illness of the brain that is very individualized. It is different for every person that lives with it. Further complicating things is that schizophrenia has five subtypes , and each of these is experienced uniquely by individuals.
That said, this mental and medical illness does have defining symptoms, features, and diagnostic. There are positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as cognitive symptoms. Schizophrenia has neurological signs, too, as well as certain behaviors that point to the illness.
The DSM-5 refers to schizophrenia as a constellation of symptoms rather than as a single, definitive disorder. Further, the markers of schizophrenia exist as a range, and they vary in intensity from person to person, and even in the same person over time .
Schizophrenia is described in the DSM-5 as having these traits:
- A decrease in functioning in important life areas
- Possible neurological problems such as movement/motor skills, sensory integration, and more
- Behaviors such as mumbling aloud in public, doing things that make sense in the persons inner world but not in the real world
These characteristics are a description of what schizophrenia is. What does schizophrenia mean?
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Early Warning Signs Of Schizophrenia
In some people, schizophrenia appears suddenly and without warning. But for most, it comes on slowly, with subtle warning signs and a gradual decline in functioning, long before the first severe episode. Often, friends or family members will know early on that something is wrong, without knowing exactly what.
In this early phase of schizophrenia, you may seem eccentric, unmotivated, emotionless, and reclusive to others. You may start to isolate yourself, begin neglecting your appearance, say peculiar things, and show a general indifference to life. You may abandon hobbies and activities, and your performance at work or school can deteriorate.
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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Patient Discussion About Schizophrenia
Q. how to treat schizophrenia?
Q. How can we treat a schizophrenic person? A member of my family is a schizophrenic and was diagnosed when he was 25 years old. Today at almost 60 he refuse to be treated and certain that nothing is wrong with him. The problem is me and my family feels that his illness is getting worst and we can’t help him. How can we get treatment for him and if not what is the next phase we should expect to encounter?
Q. Am i going to get schizophrenia and what are the signs towards it? My mother is 50 years old and i knew she was bi polar and tonight i found out she has schizophrenia too from a nurse at the hospital she was sent to for going crazy out of no where tonight. I am very different from her and i am 17 years old. My dad side of the family has no disorders. How likely am i to develop schizophrenia? What are the first symptoms? Can i see signs now? and any other info.
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.
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How Is The Diagnosis Made
Some of the symptoms that occur in schizophrenia also occur in other mental health conditions such as depression, mania, and dissociative identity disorder, or after taking some street drugs. Therefore, the diagnosis may not be clear at first. As a rule, the symptoms need to be present for several weeks before a doctor will make a firm diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Not all symptoms are present in all cases. Different forms of schizophrenia occur depending upon the main symptoms that develop. For example, people with paranoid schizophrenia mainly have positive symptoms which include delusions that people are trying to harm them. In contrast, some people mainly have negative symptoms and this is classed as simple schizophrenia. In many cases there is a mix of positive and negative symptoms.
Sometimes symptoms develop quickly over a few weeks or so. Family and friends may recognise that the person has a mental health problem. Sometimes symptoms develop slowly over months and the person may gradually become withdrawn, lose friends, jobs, etc, before the condition is recognised.
Learn To Recognize The Onset Of Schizophrenia
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
The symptoms of schizophrenia can seem peculiar to people who observe them. Some common symptoms of schizophrenia include psychosis, delusions, hallucinations, disorganized behavior, lack of emotion, reduced and disorganized speech, and memory problems.
However, when people are experiencing symptoms, they may have little or no insight that their thoughts or behaviors are strange. The lack of insight can make schizophrenia very frustrating and frightening for loved ones.
Verywell / Cindy Chung
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Functioning In Social And Professional Situations
When social and work functioning is impaired, it may be helpful to consult with a doctor. Because the symptoms tend to develop over time, it can be hard to realize that someone is experiencing difficulty in these areas. Noticing that a pattern has developed can be a signal to consult with a professional.