Schizophrenia (SCZ) is a rare but serious mental health disorder. It impacts only around 1% of people around the world. Yet, people with this disorder make up as much as one-third of the homeless population.
The symptoms of Schizophrenia can make it difficult to live a normal life. But what many people don’t realize is that schizophrenia treatment can help you recover.
Understanding schizophrenia is critical for having empathy and compassion. In this guide, we share the most important facts you need to know about this disorder and the top ways to treat it.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) categorizes Schizophrenia under psychotic disorders. This disorder features disturbed thinking and behavioral and emotional reactivity.
Schizophrenia symptoms fall into three categories. These are psychotic symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms.
Psychotic symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, and unusual or illogical thought patterns. People may refer to these symptoms as “losing touch with reality.” Abnormal body movements also fall into this group of symptoms.
Depressive symptoms are similar to those people who have depression experience. They include losing interest in daily activities, social withdrawal, trouble functioning normally, and a limited range of emotions.
Some people who have Schizophrenia may also suffer from fatigue. Fatigue may become so severe that it limits your ability to talk or move. This is a rare symptom called catatonia.
People with Schizophrenia often experience problems with thinking. For example, they may struggle with attention, memory, and concentration. They may struggle to learn new things or make decisions.
No, violence is not a symptom of Schizophrenia. Yet, this is a common and harmful misconception that can put people with this disorder at risk for violence from others.
However, some people with untreated symptoms are at a greater risk for violence toward self or others. Getting treatment can reduce this risk.
Like many mental health disorders, Schizophrenia comes about due to a complex interplay of genetics and environmental factors. Brain differences may also explain why some people develop this disorder.
Research has shown that schizophrenia can run in families. There is also a significant overlap between Schizophrenia and other disorders like autism and bipolar disorder. Both of these conditions also have strong genetic links.
However, there is no one gene that means someone will develop this disorder. Instead, many genes combine to increase someone’s risk for Schizophrenia.
So, say you have a relative with schizophrenia. Having a relative may make it more likely for you to develop this disorder. But the fact that it runs in the family does not guarantee you will have Schizophrenia.
One of the reasons that genes don’t guarantee a schizophrenia diagnosis is because of the environmental factors at play. In fact, some experts have suggested that these factors contribute up to 40% of the risk for this disorder.
Various life experiences can increase the risk of developing Schizophrenia in people with certain genes.
For example, early childhood stressors such as living in poverty or otherwise dangerous circumstances can increase someone’s risk. Nutritional issues or viral exposure in the womb may also play a role.
People with Schizophrenia may be born with different brains than other people. The opposite could also be true. The genetic and environmental risk factors combine to alter the brain of people with this disorder after birth.
Studies have found that the biggest differences are in brain areas like the cerebellum, the frontal lobe, the temporal lobe, and the hippocampus.
More evidence for this theory comes from studies on Schizophrenia medications. Drugs used to treat this disorder result in changes to the above brain areas. And these changes often come with symptom relief or disappearance.
Most people receive an Schizophrenia diagnosis during late adolescence or early adulthood. This is when these individuals experience their first psychotic episode and seek help from medical professionals.
If you or someone you love is experiencing the symptoms of this disorder, the following treatments can help.
Prescription medication is the first line of defense against the symptoms of this disorder. A medical professional will likely recommend antipsychotic medications to deal with delusions and hallucinations.
In some cases, symptoms do not respond to antipsychotics. A doctor may then prescribe a drug called clozapine. This drug can help with severe symptoms of schizophrenia, as well as suicidal behavior.
Medication only helps to manage symptoms. To fully recover, you also need therapy to learn the skills needed to live a relatively normal and healthy life.
Schizophrenia rehab should supplement medication. There are various types of rehab programs you can choose from.
Outpatient therapy is ideal for people with mild disorders. You live at home while receiving care. The number of days and hours you must spend in treatment depends on the type of outpatient program you choose.
Residential therapy is an intensive option for people suffering from severe symptoms. Patients live at the facility where they receive treatment.
Regardless of the type of program you choose, the following therapies will be available:
Relaxation treatments may also help ease symptoms. Neurofeedback, meditation, and mindfulness are all techniques to ease stress and aid in relaxation.
There is a common misconception that some drugs cause schizophrenia. That isn’t exactly true, though. The truth is that some drugs can cause people to develop Schizophrenia earlier than they would have without drugs.
At the same time, many people who suffer from this disorder self-medicate. Alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, and cannabis are all common drugs of abuse for people with Schizophrenia.
While these drugs do not cause schizophrenia, they may exacerbate symptoms. It’s critical to get help for any co-occurring addictions while in treatment.
Schizophrenia causes devastating consequences when left untreated. Luckily, treatment can help. Treating schizophrenia with medication and therapy can help you control your symptoms and live a relatively normal life.
Are you searching for schizophrenia treatment in Florida? CWC Recovery offers addiction and mental health treatment programs in South Florida. Contact us today to discover which program is right for you.