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.
Why Does Schizophrenia Happen
The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. However, most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
It is thought certain things make you more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, and certain situations can trigger the condition.
Read more about the causes of schizophrenia.
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.
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.
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What Are The Types Of Schizophrenia
There are different types of schizophrenia. The International Classification of Diseases manual describes them as below.
- Pranks, giggling and health complaints.
- Usually diagnosed in adolescents or young adults.
- Unusual movements, often switching between being very active and very still.
- You may not talk at all.
- Negative symptoms are prominent early and get worse quickly.
- Positive symptoms are rare.
Your diagnosis may have some signs of paranoid, hebephrenic or catatonic schizophrenia, but doesnt obviously fit into one of these types alone.
This type of schizophrenia is diagnosed in the later stages of schizophrenia. You may be diagnosed with this if you have a history of schizophrenia but only continue to experience negative symptoms.
There are other types of schizophrenia according to the ICD-10, such as.
- Cenesthopathic schizophrenia. This is where people experience unusual bodily sensations.
- Schizophreniform. Schizophreniform disorder is a type of psychotic illness with symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia. But symptoms last for a short period.
Symptoms meet the general conditions for a diagnosis, but do not fit in to any of the above categories.
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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Its Easy To Live In Denial
Even though your loved one isnt functioning well, isnt meeting their own expectations in life, and is using alcohol or drugs to cope, they may not see theres a problem.
Because of the natural urge to protect those you love, families can stay in denial, as well.
Its often the college that sends a young adult to the hospital for the first time because of erratic behavior or an overdose. The parents get involved only because the college requests their child be evaluated by a psychiatrist.
Families often dont seek help on their own, says Dr. Bowers.
They may continue to struggle try to understand their loved ones symptoms. Or ignore those symptoms until they escalate, sometimes into violent behavior.
But early, continuous treatment is critical, she stresses. Without help, a young adults problems will continue especially if they use drugs or alcohol.
If you find them up all hours of the night, or painting their room black, or too irritable without their meds, or scaring their little sister, call the doctor, she says. And encourage them to keep their appointments.
Why Positive And Negative Symptoms
Symptoms of schizophrenia can be referred to as positive or negative, but they dont mean good and bad.
Disordered thinking, hallucinations and delusions are called positive symptoms because they are something added to the persons normal experience. Low motivation and decreased pleasure are called negative because they take something away from a person’s experience.
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Finding Mental Health Services
There are a few different options available for clinical treatment. Your choice will depend on cost, severity of your symptoms and convenience, but not all services are available everywhere. For people in rural and remote areas, treatment options can be reduced, involve long travel, or alternatively can be delivered through telehealth services. Ask your GP for advice about the best options available for you.
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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Usually Or Typically Antipsychotics
These drugs have frequent side effects and have major neurological potential. Including the possibility of developing a movement disorder that may or may not be reversible. The group of drugs includes:
- Chlorpromazine .
Typical antipsychotics are often cheaper than their newer counterparts, especially generic versions. Which can be an important factor when long-term treatment is needed.
It may take several weeks after first starting a medication to notice an improvement in symptoms. In general, the goal of antipsychotic treatment is to effectively control signs and symptoms at the lowest possible dose. Psychiatrists may try different drugs, different doses, or combinations over time to achieve the desired results. Other medications may also be helpful, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications.
Why Do Men Develop Schizophrenia Before Women
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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Other Concerns For Men With Schizophrenia
Men with schizophrenia may tend to have lower social functioning and other conditions like substance abuse that complicate their treatment plan and recovery. Dr. Estakhri specializes in both general and addiction psychiatry, so if you have schizophrenia but are also dealing with drug or alcohol abuse, you get the most comprehensive treatment at Allied Psychiatry & Mental Health right here in Orange County, California.
Schizophrenia can be debilitating. Let us help you manage your symptoms and live a better quality of life. Contact us to make an appointment with Dr. Estakhri today.
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Iischizophrenia And Neurocognitive Impairment: A Challenge For Drug Development
The diagnosis of schizophrenia requires the presence of positive symptoms , negative symptoms , and social/occupational dysfunction over a period of time, as defined by the DSM . Dozens of studies have also identified neurocognitive impairment as a core component of the disorder, characterized by deficits in global cognition, problem solving, and learning and memory. Despite decades of clinical trials leading to the development of dozens of antipsychotics that can be effective in treating positive and negative symptoms, there is little evidence that these agents can modulate neurocognitive impairment in an enduring, meaningful way. This limitation presents a significant obstacle for treatment as neurocognitive impairment in schizophrenia is linked to functional disability and poor outcomes. Fortunately, many groups have identified and validated neurophysiological biomarkers, discussed in the succeeding text, which show great promise in aiding development of procognitive agents aimed at targeting neurocognitive impairment in schizophrenia.
Jeffrey M. Lyness, in, 2012
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Life Challenges For Women With Schizophrenia
Typically, women with schizophrenia function better socially than men, often because a later age of onset indicates a less severe form of mental illness. Women with schizophrenia are likely to experience fewer hospitalizations and shorter visits while in the hospital compared to men. Some researchers believe that this later onset is because hormones like estrogen have a protective effect.4 However, this disparity in the age of onset is not present in all ethnic groups. For example, multiple studies in the country of India have found no difference in the mean age of onset between men and women.5
Frequently Asked Questions About Schizophrenia
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.
A moving presentation by Dr. Kafui Dzirasa on Schizophrenia
View Webinar on Identifying Risk Factors and Protective Pathways for Schizophrenia
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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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 .
Public Opinion / Perception Of Schizophrenia
Worldwide, people diagnosed with schizophrenia face stigma and discrimination. The stigma associated with schizophrenia can delay a diagnosis as many people may hesitate to discuss their symptoms even with a healthcare provider. Although this stigma has been challenged in the U.S., it still exists in much of the rest of the world. Families may attempt to keep the diagnosis of a loved ones schizophrenia secret. In developed nations like the U.S., however, a clearer understanding of the illness and its symptoms has reduced the stigma. Given the rate of homelessness among this population, however, more support must be allocated to this segment of the population.
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Clinical Features And Diagnosis
The diagnosis of schizophrenia is made clinically, based on a typical combination of symptoms , in the absence of other psychiatric or medical conditions that would explain the symptoms . The exact number and combination of symptoms, as well as the required duration of symptoms to make a diagnosis of schizophrenia, differ depending on the classification system used . Making a diagnosis based on clinical symptomatology and course alone, without the help of genetic markers or biomarkers, can lead to different diagnoses over time .
Schizophrenia is a disorder with an onset in late adolescence or early adulthood. Most patients present with schizophrenia between 15 and 45 years of age. Onset during childhood or in late life is possible, but not common. Onset at the extremes of the age range show continuity with typical-onset schizophrenia, although the onset of psychosis after age 50 should raise suspicion for a secondary psychosis.
Delusions are false, nonculturally sanctioned beliefs that are held with great conviction, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Table 28-5 outlines common delusional themes. The delusional idea puts the patient at odds with his or her culture or subculture. The content of delusions can be nonbizarre or bizarre . By convention, bizarre delusions suggest schizophrenia and exclude delusional disorder.
Richard Lewine, Mara Hart, in, 2020
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.
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 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.
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Early Warning Signs And Symptoms
Usually, a person with schizophrenia has gradual changes in their thoughts and perceptions. Families are often the first to see early signs of psychosis and schizophrenia in a loved one.
Before the first episode of psychosis, you go through what is known as a premorbid period. This is the 6 months before the first symptoms of psychosis. During this period, you might experience gradual changes.
Although sleep disturbances are not included in the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia, people with the condition consistently report them.
Early warning signs include: