When someone says schizophrenia what do you think? Do they know that it is a mental illness and not an uncommon disorder? In reality, people living with this disease are fighting the hardest battle of their lives to overcome its symptoms – which can be debilitating. Sadly, many have little or no idea about what life is actually like for those who live with these challenges day in and day out due to inaccurate depictions seen on TV or movies.
One common misconception about schizophrenia is that it’s a form of split personality. Split personalities, also called dissociative identity disorder ( Diagnostic and Statistical Manual ), are characterized by two or more distinct identities within one person; this isn’t true for people with schizophrenia, who have persistent symptoms like hallucinations and delusions but don’t experience any major changes to their sense of self. While some individuals may develop an alternate persona as a coping mechanism due to chronic trauma they’ve experienced over time, such as abuse or neglect from caregivers, these separate identities usually disappear after the trigger has been removed and through therapy sessions and medications decrease their arousal levels. This is unlike those with schizotypal personality disorders which can manifest similarly yet are more consistent in their symptoms, without going away so quickly.
Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can be debilitating. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with schizophrenia require lifelong treatment. Early diagnosis and early treatment may help get symptoms under control before serious complications develop and can improve long-term outlooks. Schizophrenia encompass delusions, hallucinations or disorganized speech which reflects an impaired ability to function. These symptoms vary and may include any number of cognitive impairments as well as mood swings.
Schizophrenia is a complex brain disorder in which the afflicted individual has trouble thinking rationally with sound reasoning skills necessary for everyday life functioning such as work, school etc. Individuals with schizophrenia may likely suffer from depression due to their inability to manage emotions appropriately while also having difficulty understanding reality. They are often plagued by paranoia and believe others can hear what they think despite overt and objective evidence. This may cause great distress and these delusions will persist even if there is evidence to the contrary.
While it is rare for someone to be diagnosed with schizophrenia after age 45, there have been instances of onset in later life. In one case study an 84-year-old woman was found slumped in her bathroom and unresponsive with her home flooding from a broken pipe. It turns out this elderly lady had reached high levels of psychosis which we now know as Schizophrenia at least 3 years before diagnosis, yet never showed any typical symptoms until then because they were masked by dementia.
Symptoms can vary in type and severity over time, with periods of worsening and remission (but some may always be present). Men typically start showing signs around their 20s while women often show them between the ages 30-40. For our youth, schizophrenia is a difficult condition to diagnose as it can mimic the symptoms of typical teenager behavior. The early signs are often mislabeled and misdiagnosed making appropriate therapy even more complicated for those suffering from schizophrenia when trying to get help or treatment.
The mental health struggles in teenagers with Schizophrenia have many similarities with adults however there are some key differences. Some common teenage behaviors such as not being able to concentrate during class, or struggling with socialization may be attributed instead to high levels of stress hormones than an actual disease state like schizophrenia, if they persist long enough without intervention by doctors.
A cure for schizophrenia is yet to be found, but there are a medications that can help prevent relapses. For starters, sticking with the treatment plan and getting assessed early on will reduce symptoms or decrease their severity of symptoms. Second, research suggests early assessment may lead to earlier diagnosis of this mental illness by linking risk factors such as family history of mental illnesses like psychosis or bipolar disorder.
To sum it up, schizophrenia is a life-long and difficult condition to live with and requires a combination of medication, social support, and specific therapies. It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and managed so that an individual suffering with this condition can regain a baseline of function and find a measure of peace and happiness.