Living with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe mental illness that impacts over 21 million individuals globally, according to Psychology Today. Initially, Schizophrenia may be noticed by close family members or friends, who notice perplexing changes in behavior, thinking, regulating emotions, and decision making. The onset of Schizophrenia is usually in the late teens to early twenties in males, and late twenties to early thirties in females. Living with schizophrenia can be productive if symptoms are managed with the right treatment modalities, including psychotherapy and medication management.

Individuals with schizophrenia can pursue goals and lead productive lives. Schizophrenia treatment options include seeking intensive outpatient treatment programs to learn ways to manage symptoms. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is used to help the individual understand their experiences and learn coping skills to address their daily challenges, such as communication and building relationships. By implementing these learned coping mechanisms, people with Schizophrenia are able to pursue social interactions, work, and school with more ease. It is important to understand the increased likeliness of suicidal ideation if the individual ceases to maintain their prescribed treatment. By speaking to their therapist regularly, people with Schizophrenia are able to understand early warning signs, which can help prevent the progression of symptoms, or hospitalization.

Schizophrenia may be misdiagnosed if the onset is at a younger age. At first, schizophrenia symptoms may appear to be similar to those of clinical depression. The following positive symptoms of schizophrenia may appear in individuals for a long duration prior to a diagnosis: hallucinations, delusions, or cognitive disorientation. Hallucinations may present themselves are auditory, visual, or sensory, which appear to be very real to the individual, but unknown to others. Individuals with Schizophrenia may experience paranoid delusions of others trying to harm them or plotting against them or their loved ones. Negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia include feelings of emotional disconnection, disinterested in maintaining relationships, inability to initiate or complete planned activities, or a general disinterest towards life.

Research suggests that the possible causes of schizophrenia include genetics, brain chemistry, or substance use. Psychology Today indicates that drug use at an early age can increase likelihood of the onset of Schizophrenia. The younger and more frequent the drug use occurred, the more likely a psychotic episode may arise. The key to Schizophrenia treatment is to stay consistent with the recommended treatment to prevent relapses and ameliorate symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, take the time to educate yourself on the facts about Schizophrenia and the treatment options that may improve your quality of life.

Written by Mashal Rezai
Intake Coordinator, Balance Treatment Center

References:

Schizophrenia. (2017, April 19). Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/conditions/schizophrenia

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