What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that interferes with how a person perceives reality, relates to others, expresses emotions, behaves and thinks. As one of the most disabling and chronic major mental disorders, individuals who suffer from schizophrenia cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. A person with schizophrenia may have an onset of several symptoms, such as auditory hallucinations (hearing voices), paranoia that someone is reading their thoughts or plotting against them, delusions, disorganized speech and thinking, and dysfunction when relating socially or occupationally. While there are common symptoms among schizophrenic sufferers, the disease state may vary among individuals, with symptoms declining or improving in cycles or relapses and remissions. Within the classification of schizophrenia, there are various subtypes of this mental health disorder, which are as follows:
- Disorganized schizophrenia: Individuals who present as incoherent, confused, and with muddled speech. Behaviors often mimic a child, and may have difficulty performing simple tasks, such as basic hygiene.
- Catatonic schizophrenia: Will present as unresponsive to stimuli, often appear rigid, stiff, or assume peculiar postures or movements.
- Paranoid schizophrenia: Characterized by preoccupation with delusions that someone or something is going to harm or punish them.
- Residual schizophrenia: Symptoms of schizophrenia are diminished but may still be present
- Undifferentiated schizophrenia: Classification for when symptoms do not fall into another subtype
It is common for people to suffer with schizophrenia to also struggle with other mental illness, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. Because of the nature of this mental health condition, men and women living with schizophrenia may have difficulty functioning in society, in a career, at school, or in relationships. For these reasons, it is imperative that professional help is sought to deal with and appropriately manage schizophrenia. While schizophrenia is a life-long disease that cannot be cured, it can be effectively managed with professional help and treatment. You or your loved one may be ready to improve the quality of life by healing from schizophrenia disorder; consider seeking the help and support of a schizophrenia disorder treatment center.
Statistics About Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia disorder is a severely debilitating mental health condition that can leave a sufferer disabled if not properly addressed and managed. Learning more about this condition through statistics and various studies can increase awareness, understanding, and help improve treatment outcomes. The following statistics about schizophrenia are important in that they give further insight into this illness:
- The average life expectancy of people with schizophrenia is 12-15 years less than those without the disease. This is due to increased physical health problems and a higher suicide rate .
- The onsets of schizophrenic symptoms usually occur in young adulthood, with a global lifetime prevalence of about .3-.7% .
- Late adolescence and early adulthood are periods with the highest tendencies for schizophrenia to occur .
- In 40% of men and 23% of women diagnosed with schizophrenia, the condition manifested itself before the age of 19 .
- People with a family history of schizophrenia who suffer a transient psychosis have a 20-40% chance of being diagnosed one year later .
- An estimated 1 percent of Americans are diagnosed with schizophrenia .
- Research has found that people with schizophrenia tend to have higher rates of genetic mutations. These genetic differences involve hundreds of different genes and likely disrupt brain development .
Causes of Schizophrenia
While the causes of schizophrenia are not fully understood, there has been research that has demonstrated how a combination of genetics and environmental factors play a role in the development of schizophrenia. An individual who has a first-degree relative with schizophrenia has a greater likelihood of developing the disorder as well. There are also environmental factors that may be associated with the development of schizophrenia. Possible factors include drug use, living environment and prenatal stressors (such as infection, hypoxia, or malnutrition in the mother during gestation). Social factors that may be may be connected with the development of schizophrenia include immigration, racial discrimination, poor housing conditions, social isolation, unemployment, and family dysfunction. Overall, it is likely that schizophrenia is not the direct cause of one factor, but rather, the result of a combination of factors.
Signs and Symptoms of Schizophrenia
There are certain signs and symptoms individuals will manifest when struggling with schizophrenia. If you or a loved one is struggling with schizophrenia disorder, these symptoms may help you better comprehend what may be expected as you are dealing with this mental health condition or encourage you to reach out for professional help. Common signs and symptoms of schizophrenia include but are not limited to:
- Neglect of personal hygiene
- Loss of appetite, weight loss
- Social withdrawal
- Feeling as though being controlled by outside forces
- Remaining quiet or hidden in group settings or social situations
- Disorganized thinking and speech
Symptoms of schizophrenia may vary depending on the subtype of the disorder. If you are concerned that you or a loved one may be struggling with any of the above symptoms as a result of schizophrenia, consider seeking the help of a schizophrenia treatment facility or professional to find the necessary help and resources you need to manage this disorder.
As one of the most disabling mental disorders, schizophrenia can severely limit your ability to live daily life normally. If not managed professionally and appropriately, schizophrenia can be damaging to you in various ways, including physically, psychologically, and socially. If schizophrenia disorder is effectively treated, the prognosis for this mental health condition can be drastically improved. The following are some of the effects of schizophrenia:
Physical Effects – While schizophrenia primarily affects a person psychologically, the physical health can be impacted as well. These are some physical effects that may be experienced:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Self-inflicted injuries
- Catatonia (a state of immobility)
Psychological Effects – Schizophrenia disorder results in a severely disturbed mental state, which can be psychologically debilitating. Some of the psychological effects that may be experienced include:
- Emotional detachment
- Irrational thoughts and perception
- Extreme anixety
- Severe depression
- Dysregulation of emotions
- Emotional outbursts
- Panic attacks
- Psychotic episodes
- Difficulty in expressing emotions
- Suicidal ideations
- Psychosis (out of touch with reality)
Lastly, schizophrenia will directly affect your ability to relate to others socially. Effects of schizophrenia on one’s social life include:
- Avoidance of social events or functions
- Difficulty initiating or sustaining relationships
- Inability to establish intimacy in relationships
- Inability to function in a work or school environment
Living with schizophrenia can be an overwhelming burden to bear, particularly as the various aspects of your life are affected by this mental health condition. As you struggle through these consequences, you may find yourself feeling hopeless or living in despair because of the schizophrenic condition. Thankfully, there is hope for improvement from this disabling disorder, which is found by seeking the appropriate help and care you or your loved one may need. A schizophrenia disorder treatment plan will incorporate a multidisciplinary approach, which can help an individual with schizophrenia better manage their symptoms and live a more productive life. A schizophrenia treatment center can provide the tools and resources you need to cope and live effectively with this mental health condition.
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Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on April 15th, 2013
Published on AddictionHope.com, Substance Abuse Help