Thursday, 30 July 2015

What Do You Really Know: Schizophrenia

Mental health illnesses are common yet many people do not understand the illness and can become afraid or distant themselves from those with a mental illness. For those dealing with a mental illness this can cause their illness to become worse or slow down the process to recovery. Each week I will be writing a post on a different mental illnesses to help people understand more and to help reduce the amount of stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. 


I spoke to some people and asked them to give me their definition or what they thought it meant to have Schizophrenia. Majority of people thought it meant that the person had a split personality and that they had a good side where the person was 'normal' and the other side was a nasty side and violent. Only a small percent knew the definition of the disorder. 

Definition: A long-term mental disorder which affects the way the way that you think. 

The condition is fairly common with 1 in 100 being diagnosed. This can happen from early adulthood the early phase of the disorder is called the prodromal phase. During the prodromal phase you may sleep, communicate and think differently. It may become difficult to manage your emotions and to feel motivated. 

Those who have the disorder find it difficult to identify what is real and what is unreal. They may hear voices or see things that aren't really there and speak in strange ways. This can lead to them believing that others are trying to cause harm to them or that people are constantly watching them. The episodes of paranoia can happen suddenly or gradually with the person feeling anxious, upset and suspicious of others.

There is more then one type of schizophrenia each with their own characteristics:

  • Paranoid Schizophrenia
  • Hebephrenic Schizophrenia
  • Catatonic Schizophrenia
  • Undifferentiated Schizophrenia
  • Residual Schizophrenia
  • Simple Schizophrenia    
You can find more information on these on the rethink website. 

Although Schizophrenia can come on suddenly there are normally some subtle warning signs. Below are the most common early signs: 

  • Social withdrawal
  • Strange use of words or speaking differently 
  • Changes within their sleeping pattern
  • Inappropriate laughing 
  • Hostility or suspiciousness 
  • Depression 
  • Saying rather odd or irrational things
  • Not expression emotions like joy or crying 
  • Forgetful
  • Decline in personal hygiene
  • A blank glaze 
Please note that some of these symptoms can relate to other medical condition and are not just in relation to schizophrenia.

A diagnosis of schizophrenia can only be made by a psychiatrist, manuals are used to diagnose. The International Classification of Diseases which was produced by the World Health Organisation and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual which was produced by the American Psychiatric Association. The treatment given is different for each person and can include a combination medicines and talking therapy. For most people diagnosed they will have schizophrenia as a long-term illness. some may see improvement in their illness and 3 in 10 may have a lasting recovery. 

As with illness people want to know what caused it. With schizophrenia it is generally understood to have many contributing factors and not just one cause. You can read more information about the cause on mind

There are many support groups and websites that can offer help and support to both the person who has been diagnosed and to the family and friends who are unsure on what to do. You can find many websites with online forums to discuss confidential with others. If you are a family member or friend you can ask your GP for a list of local support groups or you can go online and join forums to speak with others.

I hope this information has helped with better understanding and in pointing you in the right direction of finding some support.    

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