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What’s It Like To Have Schizophrenia

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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.

Positive And Negative Symptoms

The symptoms of schizophrenia are usually classified into:

  • positive symptoms any change in behaviour or thoughts, such as hallucinations or delusions
  • negative symptoms where people appear to withdraw from the world around then, take no interest in everyday social interactions, and often appear emotionless and flat

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What Is The Difference Between Schizophrenia And Multiple Personalities

While the name schizophrenia does come from the Greek words for split and mind, none of the conditions under schizophrenia involve multiple personalities. Instead, multiple personalities fall under a condition known as dissociative identity disorder . That condition falls under the category of dissociative disorders.

Who Does It Affect

Top 10 Schizophrenia Facts

Schizophrenia typically starts at different ages, depending on sex. It usually starts between ages 15 and 25 for men and between 25 and 35 for women. It also tends to affect men and women in equal numbers.

Schizophrenia in children, especially before age 18, is possible but rare. However, these cases are usually very severe. Earlier onset tends to lead to a more severe, harder-to-treat condition.

About 20% of new schizophrenia cases occur in people over age 45. These cases tend to happen more in women. Delusion symptoms are stronger in these cases, with less-severe negative symptoms and effects on the ability to think and focus.

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Welcome To Living With Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe and disabling illness of the brain that affects the way the mind works often causing disturbed behaviour and disrupting normal living. It will affect about 1 in 100 of the population and starts mainly in late teens and early twenties, at the very time that most people are starting out on their adult life and beginning to realise their plans and ambitions. Today in the UK almost a quarter of a million people are being treated for schizophrenia: it affects men and women alike and cuts across all social classes and ethnic backgrounds.

Schizophrenia is one of the major public health challenges facing us today and yet its true impact is very poorly understood by the general public. The cruelly high death toll from suicide and the higher vulnerability to physical ailments mean that people living with schizophrenia will die 10 to 20 years earlier than average.Today in the UK , improved medications coupled with better access to talking therapies have led to better clinical outcomes but social outcomes still lag far behind. At the moment very few people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia will manage to get into work, drive or own their own home despite recovering a large part of their mental functioning. Recovery, true recovery, therefore remains an aspiration that we are yet to achieve

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Schizophrenia Schizoaffective Disorder And What Its Like To Be Psychotic

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.

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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.

‘my Reaction Was Curiosity’

What its like to have Schizophrenia.avi

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.

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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.

What Can I Do If A Loved One Shows Signs Of Schizophrenia Or A Similar Condition

Because people with schizophrenia often cant recognize their symptoms or condition, they often dont believe they need medical care or treatment. That can be frustrating or frightening for both the person with the symptoms and those who care about them.

If you notice a loved one showing signs of schizophrenia or a related condition, you can try helping them by doing the following:

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Schizophrenia can be a frightening condition for the people who have it and their loved ones. Despite stereotypes, this isnt a condition where any thought of recovery or living a happy, fulfilling life is impossible. If you think you have symptoms of schizophrenia, its important to talk to a healthcare provider as soon as you can. Their job is to help you, and healthcare providers especially those who specialize in mental health conditions like schizophrenia have the training to help you not feel judged, ashamed or embarrassed. If you notice a loved one struggling with symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia, encourage them gently and supportively to get care. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in helping people recover and manage this condition.

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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.

  • People who live with schizophrenia are dangerous

Those who live with schizophrenia arent usually dangerous. People who live with schizophrenia are far more likely to be harmed by other people than harm others.

There is a higher risk of violent behaviour from those who live with schizophrenia. But, as with people who dont live with schizophrenia, much of the risk is linked to the use of street drugs or alcohol.

Sometimes people who live with schizophrenia commit violent crimes. The media often report them in a way which emphasises the persons mental health diagnosis. This can create fear and stigma in the general public. But it should be remembered that:

  • violent crimes are also committed by people who dont live with schizophrenia,
  • its often later found that the person was failed or neglected by the mental health system, and
  • the crime might have been prevented if the person had received the care and support they needed.

So, its not right to say that schizophrenia equals dangerous.

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What About Using Electroconvulsive Therapy To Treat Schizophrenia

What Is Schizophrenia Like

Every case of schizophrenia is different. Many people respond well to a treatment plan that consists of antipsychotic medications and therapy. Some people may still fail to respond, though. In this situation, it can be helpful to consider electroconvulsive therapy as part of a treatment plan.

There are many misconceptions about ECT. The goal of electroconvulsive therapy is to trigger a brief seizure in the brain, which is proven to help reduce symptoms related to depression and schizophrenia.

Using ECT to treat patients with depression or schizophrenia is determined on a case-by-case basis. It is important for people to learn more and to meet with a trained mental health provider if they consider this option.

Learn more about how ECT is becoming a common treatment for depression and schizophrenia

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Dont Take It Personally

Schizophrenia can be a difficult illnessfor everyone. During episodes of psychosis, your loved one may experience frightening sensations that you cant understand. They may act in ways that you dont understand. Other symptoms of schizophrenia can make it hard for people to express emotions or feelings, communicate clearly, or seem interested in others. Its important to know that these are symptoms of an illness. They are no ones fault, but they can still be hard to cope with. Consider reaching out to a family and friends support group for your own support. The BC Schizophrenia Society has a directory of groups around BC at

How I Went From Being A College Student To Someone With Schizophrenia

But at the end of 2008, I started experiencing strange symptoms. I began feeling paranoid. I started seeing things, and hearing voices. I didnt want to get dressed or even get out of bed. I didnt understand what was going on.

They started me on some new medication, but when I was discharged four months later, I noticed that I was having side effects, like twitching. I wanted to go back to work as a server, but you cant carry trays in a restaurant when youre twitching! So I stopped taking my meds again.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms

Symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person and may change over time. Hospitalization may be needed during a severe episode to ensure a persons safety, proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, and other factors.

The signs of schizophrenia involve:

  • Delusions: false beliefs that a person does not change, even when presented facts.
  • Hallucinations: seeing or hearing things that do not exist, such as a voice making commands.
  • Disorganized thinking and speech: impaired communication, including shifting from one thought to the next without a logical connection, or speaking in sentences that do not make sense to others.
  • Disorganized or abnormal physical behavior: inappropriate or strange actions, a complete lack of movement or talking, acting with a childlike silliness, unpredictable agitation, repetitive or excessive movements.
  • Negative symptoms: a reduced or lack of the ability to function normally, such as ignoring personal hygiene or not showing emotion.
  • A Typical Day Living With Schizophrenia

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    Graham says there is no typical day with schizophrenia, and each can be different. Some days he engages in activism work, speaking at conferences, and meeting with others who have mental health disorders. Other days, Graham does mundane things such as taking his partner to the station for work and meeting up with friends.

    Graham also has fortnightly appointments for therapy and has extra support from a specialist team to tackle elements of his past. He adds that these spaces are important to him, as they make him feel safe to cry and talk about his feelings.

    When I feel low, I remind myself that soon Wendy will be home we will kiss and cuddle and talk about work and I will annoy her by asking what to make for tea. The children might be with their dad, but they give me a big hug when they come back, and we share inside jokes.

    Graham still struggles with alcohol dependency which he says worsened following the death of his dad and has disturbed sleep. He often feels detached from his emotions and struggles with feeling like global catastrophes are solely his fault. Luckily, he has people in his life who are able to notice when he is not engaged and to remind him of the joys of everyday life.

    I now feel like I have purpose and I realise that my life is immensely privileged. I have at long last realised that my family has always loved me despite some of the sadness in my life, and my professional support means I feel less alone, he says.

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    Take Care Of Yourself Too

    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 ones illness. If you need help balancing time for self-care with caregiving duties, check out the BC Schizophrenia Societys Family Respite Program.

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