Schizophrenia: Meaning, Symptoms, Causes, And Best Treatments Available
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a serious and chronic mental health illness in which the person loses touch with reality and experiences hallucinations and delusions. Research suggests that schizophrenia typically emerges in the late teenage or early adult years, and affects men and women equally. Children may also exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia.
What are the Symptoms?
The mental health disorder can cause a wide range of symptoms, and these can vary in severity and duration from person to person. The symptoms can be broadly categorized into positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms.
Positive symptoms of schizophrenia are those that are added to a person’s experience and include:
- Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting things that are not there.
- Delusions: Beliefs that are not based in reality, such as the belief that someone is trying to harm you, that you have special powers, or that your thoughts are being controlled by external forces.
- Disordered thinking and speech: Difficulty organizing thoughts or expressing oneself in a clear and coherent way.
- Abnormal movements: Agitation, catatonia, or other abnormal movements that may seem purposeless or repetitive.
Negative symptoms are those that involve a loss of normal functions, such as:
- Apathy or lack of motivation: Feeling uninterested in activities that were once enjoyable or important.
- Social withdrawal: Avoiding social situations or relationships.
- Anhedonia: Difficulty experiencing pleasure or enjoyment.
- Emotional flatness: Lack of emotional expressions, such as reduced facial expressions or voice tone.
Cognitive symptoms involve difficulties with thinking and memory and may include:
- Problems with attention and concentration.
- Difficulty with working memory and executive functioning.
- Impaired decision-making and problem-solving abilities.
- Reduced ability to plan and organize.
It’s important to note that not everyone with schizophrenia will experience all of these symptoms, and some symptoms may be more pronounced than others. Additionally, symptoms may change over time or in response to treatment. Therefore, it is advisable to work consistently with a certified therapist or psychiatrist to identify and manage the symptoms.
Can Schizophrenia Be Treated?
Schizophrenia is not a ‘curable’ condition and may persist life-long. However, it is possible to manage the symptoms of schizophrenia and achieve mental and emotional stability to a certain extent.
Treatment usually involves a combination of medication and therapy.
Antipsychotic medications are often used to help manage the positive symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations and delusions. These medications work by blocking dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is thought to be involved in the development of symptoms.
Therapy can also be helpful in managing symptoms and improving overall functioning. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to help people manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. CBT can help individuals learn to recognize and challenge distorted thinking patterns and develop strategies for coping with symptoms and stressors.
In addition to medication and therapy, other forms of support can be helpful for people with schizophrenia. This may include support groups, vocational training, and case management services to help with day-to-day tasks and accessing resources.
It’s important to note that treatment is often a long-term process and may require ongoing care and support. With appropriate treatment, many people with schizophrenia can lead fulfilling and productive lives.
Therapies To Manage Schizophrenia
There are several different types of therapy that can be used to treat schizophrenia, including:
1.Family therapy: Family therapy involves working with a person’s family members to help them better understand the disorder and learn ways to support their loved ones. Family therapy can also help improve communication and reduce stress within the family.
2. Social skills training: Social skills training can help people learn how to interact with others more effectively. This may involve role-playing, group activities, and other techniques to improve communication and social skills.
3. Cognitive remediation: Cognitive remediation is a type of therapy that aims to improve cognitive functioning, such as memory and attention. This may involve exercises or computer-based programs designed to strengthen cognitive skills.
4. Assertive community treatment (ACT): ACT is a type of team-based approach to treatment that provides comprehensive, community-based care for people with schizophrenia. This may include medication management, therapy, case management, and other services to help individuals maintain stability and independence in the community.
It’s important to note that therapy is often used in conjunction with medication to treat schizophrenia, and the type of therapy used may depend on the individual’s specific needs and symptoms. A mental health professional can help determine which type of therapy may be most effective for a particular person.
The Biggest Myth About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a highly misunderstood mental health condition. The biggest myth, perhaps is that individuals with schizophrenia are possessed by evil spirits or demons.
Symptoms such as catatonic behavior where a person can exhibit unusual and strange styles of movement including staying in a statue-like position for hours, and in some cases even days. Other symptoms such as having auditory and visual hallucinations often contribute to the common myth that individuals with schizophrenia are controlled by demons.
Unfortunately, because of this common notion many individuals are deprived of proper medical treatment. Instead, they are forced into unethical and ‘spiritual methods’ such as exorcism, and rites and even banished into complete isolation.
These methods only escalate the symptoms and is detrimental to the person’s sense of self.
Other common myths that needs to be busted include:
Myth: It is a rare disorder.
Fact: It is actually a relatively common disorder, affecting about 1% of the population worldwide.
Myth: Schizophrenia causes multiple personalities.
Fact: Schizophrenia is not the same as dissociative identity disorder (formerly known as multiple personality disorder). People with schizophrenia do not have multiple personalities.
Myth: People with schizophrenia are violent and dangerous.
Fact: While people with schizophrenia may sometimes exhibit violent behavior, the majority of people with the disorder are not violent and are more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators.
Myth: Schizophrenia is caused by bad parenting or personal weakness.
Fact: Schizophrenia is a complex disorder that is caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurobiological factors. It is not caused by personal weakness or bad parenting.
Myth: People with schizophrenia cannot recover or lead productive lives.
Fact: While schizophrenia can be a challenging disorder to manage, many people with the disorder are able to recover and lead fulfilling lives with appropriate treatment and support.
It’s important to dispel these myths and educate the public about the true nature of schizophrenia. Reducing stigma and increasing understanding can help people with schizophrenia receive the right care and support they need and deserve.
How to Help Someone with Schizophrenia?
If you have a friend or loved one with schizophrenia, there are several ways you can support them:
- Educate yourself about schizophrenia: Learn as much as you can about the disorder so you can better understand what your friend or loved one is going through. This can help you provide better support and be more empathetic.
- Be a good listener: Let your friend or loved one know that you are there to listen and offer support. Avoid judging or dismissing their experiences, and try to validate their feelings and concerns.
- Encourage them to seek treatment: Encourage your friend or loved one to seek treatment and support for their schizophrenia. Offer to help them find a mental health professional or accompany them to appointments.
- Be patient and understanding: Schizophrenia can be a challenging disorder to manage, and recovery may be a long and difficult process. Be patient and understanding, and avoid getting frustrated or angry with your friend or loved one.
- Provide practical support: Offer to help with practical tasks, such as cooking, cleaning, or running errands, if your friend or loved one is struggling with these tasks due to their symptoms.
- Don’t take their behavior personally: People with schizophrenia may sometimes behave in ways that are difficult to understand or may seem odd or unusual. Try not to take this behavior personally, and remember that it is a symptom of the disorder.
- Take care of yourself: Supporting someone with schizophrenia can be challenging, so it’s important to take care of yourself as well. Make sure to prioritize your own needs and seek support when you need it.
Remember that everyone with schizophrenia is unique, and the type and amount of support they need may vary. Be open and flexible, and let your friend or loved one guide you in how best to support them
Holistic Living Note
The stigmas and stereotypes revolving around mental health are a shameful reality that deprives a person of seeking support and improving their well-being. They are forced to live unhappy life and struggle with their own mind. It is important that we, as a society, take active steps to educate ourselves about mental health and broaden our mindset.
It is time we equivalent mental health with physical health, and view therapy as a common or even necessary course of action for anyone struggling with mental health concerns. By creating a space of non-judgment, acceptance, support, and empathy we can save lives. We can encourage a person to take the right support, resolve their issues and live a happy and healthy life.
If you or your loved ones are dealing with mental health concerns then please remember that you are not alone. Seeking therapy has helped many individuals resolve their problems and emerge stronger and happier.
At Holistic Living, we offer Therapy, Counselling, and Healing services. Our health practitioners are qualified, experienced, and trusted professionals who will be there with you at every step of your life-changing journey.
Whenever you are ready, feel free to WhatsApp or Call us and we will help you out in the best way we can.