Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe illness that affects nearly 2.4 million people over the age of 18. You might know the movie versions (John Nash in A Beautiful Mind, Donnie of Donnie Darko, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Edward Daniels in Shutter Island) but in real life, the illness isn’t masked as a suspense, thriller or dramatic film. Schizophrenia is real, and the people it affects are real too.
What Is Schizophrenia?
Marked primarily by delusions and hallucinations, schizophrenia is a debilitating mental illness that causes a person to lose touch with reality.
It’s thought to occur in about 1 percent of the population and can be very difficult to treat, especially if paired with other mental illnesses or substance abuse problems. In fact, schizophrenics are prone to substance abuse problems by way of self-medicating to ease the symptoms of the illness.
What Are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia can be broken down into three distinct categories of symptoms: positive, negative, and cognitive. They range in severity but generally cause hindrances or obstacles for a person’s daily life and activities. The National Institute on Mental Health outlines the following categories and the symptoms contained within each:
- Hallucinations. These are instances of seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, or tasting something that is not there. Schizophrenics might hear voices or see objects that are not present. The voices, for example, may encourage the person to injure himself/herself, or warn that someone or something is out to get him/her.
- Delusions. These are bizarre beliefs about oneself and the world around him/her. Paranoid delusions (called “delusions of persecution”) may occur in which a person feels that an entity is out to harm him/her.
- Disorganized thoughts. A person with schizophrenia may not make sense when he/she talks, stops talking abruptly, or makes up nonsensical words.
If you aren’t sure if you or someone else has schizophrenia but you want to help them, look at the warning signs below:
- Lack of motivation
- Withdrawing from social circles
- Bizarre statements or actions
- Increasing paranoia
- Suspicion or hostile behavior
- Lack of emotional response
- Speaking in a strange manner
Help for Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is an illness that does require treatment from a qualified medical professional. The longer schizophrenia goes untreated, the worse it can become and the more disturbing it can be to your life or the life of a loved one. It is possible for a person to be treated for schizophrenia and go on to function and live life with enjoyment, motivation, and fun.
If you think schizophrenia may be an issue in your life or the life of a loved one, we can answer your questions and connect you to a well-suited treatment plan. There is hope for the future. Don’t let schizophrenia hinder your life any more than it already has. Call us today.