27 Mar What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder whose predominant (strongest) feature is psychosis (a break with reality). Most people are familiar with the term schizophrenia, but not a lot of people could properly define it. This post is meant to give you a basic understanding of what schizophrenia is, although it IS a very complex disorder.
Here’s a Visual…
In general, schizophrenia is characterized by two or more of the following over a continuous time period:
Delusions (false beliefs)
Hallucinations (false sensory experiences)
Disorganized behavior: Skye was cooking, then lifted weights, then counted kids on the street.
Decreased affect (decreased responsiveness to others, decreased speech and/or decreased motivation)
Schizophrenia is a very complex and distressful disorder. It will disrupt (meaning to interrupt) a person’s ability to function in one or more major areas of life: interpersonal relations, work, education, social relations or self-care. This inability must be present for at least six months (with one month of serious symptoms) in order for a diagnosis of schizophrenia to be considered.
About 90% of people in treatment for schizophrenia are between 15 and 55 years old.
The cause of schizophrenia is still being investigated, although there does appear to be a genetic component – people with a close blood relative with schizophrenia have a greater chance of developing schizophrenia themselves. A chaotic and stressful living environment, drug use, and prenatal stressors have all been shown to contribute to the diagnosis. The brain scans of people with schizophrenia look different than those of healthy individuals, so scientists are looking at ways in which the brain functions and develops as a contributing factor to the disease.
What to do…
Sound scary? It can be, but the good news is that schizophrenia can be treated quite effectively these days with medication to calm the delusions and hallucinations. When given the proper dosage and ample therapy, people with schizophrenia can work and function in society. Here is an example of how proper medication can assist someone with schizophrenia:
Thoughts of a person with Schizophrenia who IS NOT on medication: I don’t need to shower today or wash my hands because the government is putting chemicals in the water to alter my brain. I have to go to work because no one else can be trusted to do all my work. Someone else will have to take care of the children. Yes, I do have children. Are you questioning me about the 26 kids I am raising?
Thoughts of a person with Schizophrenia who IS on medication: I am feeling okay today. So maybe I had a rough day yesterday, but things are looking better now. I have a lot of work to do but I told work last week that I would be at home in between my doctor appointments. I am all showered and ready to go.
Do you know anyone with schizophrenia? How has it changed your life?