What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder that can affect a person’s thoughts, beliefs, emotions, decisions, and behavior. Schizophrenia symptoms often feel and act removed from the real world, however schizophrenia can be treated to improve the lifestyle of someone with schizophrenia.
People with schizophrenia behave as if they’ve lost touch with reality. The combination of delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized behavior that characterize schizophrenia can lead to a distorted image of reality.
In other words, schizophrenia is a psychological condition in which reality is often misinterpreted; the person hears, sees, and feels things that are not real. This may mean that ability to concentrate or pay attention is impaired with schizophrenia, because the schizophrenia takes someone out of the reality others are experiencing.
Another defining characteristic of schizophrenia is social isolation. People with this condition spend most of their waking hours alone, separated from the people and activities that could help them enjoy a normal life outside of their schizophrenia. Instead, they prefer to immerse themselves in an inner world marked by delusions and psychosis due to the symptoms of their schizophrenia.
Although schizophrenia is currently incurable, early treatment can help the person keep symptoms under control and prevent serious complications. Treatment for schizophrenia is lifelong, and can improve the lives of many people with schizophrenia with the right support.
Signs of Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia evolves differently from person to person. In some cases, symptoms of schizophrenia may develop gradually, while in other cases schizophrenia may occur suddenly. It differs person to person. Furthermore, schizophrenia can manifest episodically, which means the person can have a perfectly normal life during the remission period.
Some of the first signs of schizophrenia are:
- Feeling of being watched, pursued, or ‘under surveillance’
- Withdrawal from all social activities
- Bizarre verbal expressions
- Abnormal body postures
- Changes in personality
- Paranoid thoughts
- Visual or auditory hallucinations, similar to psychosis
- Lack of focus
- Lack of sleep
- Anger outbursts for no apparent reason
- Disorganized thinking and behavior
It’s also important to note that experts often divide the symptoms of schizophrenia between positive and negative.
Positive symptoms are problems that add up to the overall condition; some examples include hallucinations, disorganized behavior, and paranoid thoughts.
Negative symptoms refer to abilities that the person loses as the disease progresses. Some examples of negative symptoms with schizophrenia are lack of motivation, the loss of speech and thought, and apathy. Many people with schizophrenia will experience both symptoms types.
How is Schizophrenia Treated?
When it comes to treating schizophrenia, clinicians will often start by prescribing medication that alleviates the unpleasant symptoms associated with this condition. A treatment plan for schizophrenia will aim to address lifelong challenges that may come with schizophrenia, and even when some positive symptoms of schizophrenia subside, treatment should persist.
When it comes to treating schizophrenia, medication is typically the first option. But because medications for schizophrenia or any mood disorder take time to find the one that works for each patient, many people with schizophrenia are reluctant to take them.
And that’s why patients and psychiatrists need to discuss this issue and find a schizophrenia treatment that is both effective and with as few side effects as possible. This way any patient with schizophrenia has an ally on their path through treatment and can go to someone if their symptoms of schizophrenia are not agreeing with the medication.
As for the medication used to treat schizophrenia, psychiatrists usually prescribe antipsychotics (conventional or atypical) which can influence hormones that are involved in mood management, thus helping the patient manage the positive symptoms of this condition. Many of these schizophrenia treatments aim to curtail the experience of psychosis and allow someone with schizophrenia to remain in touch with reality.
Aside from medication, people with schizophrenia can also benefit significantly from individual or group therapy.
With the help of a counselor or therapist, patients can learn how to handle everyday problems, communicate better, cultivate meaningful relationships, improve teamwork skills, and develop the motivation they need to keep their schizophrenia under control.
Furthermore, therapy can also help the patient cope with the stigma associated with schizophrenia. It also may skill them with the tools to talk about their schizophrenia with others, to help them find a support system to deal with their schizophrenia.
Residential treatment centers
Residential treatment centers can be an excellent alternative to psychiatric hospitals for those with schizophrenia. By acquiring social and vocational skills, people with schizophrenia can live independently - which is an essential part of recovery.
Most residential centers promote an integrative approach to mental health and wellbeing for schizophrenia. That means people who opt for this solution benefit from individual and group therapy, recreational activities, and a supportive environment in which they can develop the skills they need to live a normal life with schizophrenia or other mood disorders.