Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can affect both men and women, but which appears most commonly in men between the ages of 18 and 25. When women are affected by the illness it tends to appear closer to the age of thirty. Most schizophrenia facts point out that although it is life altering to be diagnosed with the illness, it is also manageable with medication and proper treatment.
Symptoms of schizophrenia vary, with the most common including delusions and hallucinations. It is considered to be a very serious disease with negative cognitive and emotional symptoms that present themselves at different times. As WebMD states, they might hear, see, smell, or feel things no one else does. Most often they’ll hear voices in their heads. These might tell them what to do, warn them of danger, or say mean things to them. The voices might talk to each other. (1)
Those who suffer from schizophrenia may find themselves unable to focus on a clear thought or make decisions. Many will act cold or distant, finding themselves unable to empathize or feel emotions in regards to others and how they are feeling. This can cause sufferers to become antisocial and shy away from interacting with others.
Sadly, schizophrenia is often mislabelled by those outside of the medical community as a split personality disorder, but this is not the case with most diagnoses. A lack of enthusiasm for life and a problem finding happiness in things which used to bring joy is a huge part of the illness. This can be particularly difficult for friends and family members who realize how motivated and joyful sufferers used to be.
One of the many schizophrenia facts that fails to garner the same amount of attention as the symptoms of the illness is the diagnosis process. This is a tricky process as there is no clearly defined test that proves schizophrenia. Instead, each patient must first undergo a number of tests for alternative factors which could be creating the symptoms. For example, a tumor on the brain could lead to hallucinations and an inability to retain memories. Sometimes the diagnosis comes swiftly, but often tests are inconclusive and some patients will wait up to ten years to be properly diagnosed.
Once a diagnosis has been made for a case of schizophrenia there are also subcategories of the illness to consider. Some patients may be deemed paranoid while others are catatonic. This will ultimately depend on the characteristics which become apparent.
It is important to treat schizophrenia once the illness has been diagnosed, but one of the interesting schizophrenia facts is that there is something even more crucial than treatment. The ongoing support necessary to reduce the possibility of a relapse can make a huge difference for those who have the illness. This comes through education and having the support of friends and family members.
As Mayoclinic states, schizophrenia requires lifelong treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Treatment with medications and psychosocial therapy can help manage the condition. In some cases, hospitalization may be needed. A psychiatrist experienced in treating schizophrenia usually guides treatment. The treatment team also may include a psychologist, social worker, psychiatric nurse and possibly a case manager to coordinate care. The full-team approach may be available in clinics with expertise in schizophrenia treatment. (2)
The most common form of treatment for severe cases of the illness is through medication. Generally, this will be with an antipsychotic drug which aids in the dissipation of hallucinations. Some patients are able to lead completely normal lives through the use of medications, while others will find that antipsychotics only prevent certain symptoms, or work only during a psychotic episode, but do not help with other symptoms of the illness. Medications are the cornerstone of schizophrenia treatment, and antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed drugs. They’re thought to control symptoms by affecting the brain neurotransmitter dopamine. (2)
Therapy is another treatment which will be offered with or without the use of medication. This can help with some of the antisocial and emotional behaviors which are effected negatively by schizophrenia. Private and group therapy is available, and ongoing aid with personal and professional skills is also offered.