The concept of healthy living is often associated with eating right and following a proper lifestyle. Earlier, the term “wellness” was used to denote one’s physical well-being only, but this term has now come to include one’s mental health as well. One’s mental health is as important as their physical health. It is imperative to understand that mental disorders exist and people dealing with these conditions need all the help and support they can get. Instead of abiding by the age-old taboos associated with mental disorders, it is essential to recognize that people can coexist with others despite such conditions, given the help of loved ones and appropriate treatment methods.
One such disorder that has been subjected to constant misunderstandings and has been thoroughly misrepresented by the media is schizophrenia. This disorder affects around 1% of the population and is a chronic condition. Schizophrenia tends to affect men and women alike, irrespective of their age. Men tend to develop the symptoms in their late teens or 20s, whereas, women show signs of this condition in their late 20s and early 30s. To be able to help people with this condition, it is crucial to understand its effect on people and differentiate between the facts and misconceptions about schizophrenia.
Read on to acquaint yourself with the different facets of this disorder.
Symptoms of schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a chronic psychiatric disorder wherein the individual experiences distortions of reality in the form of delusions or hallucinations. The exact cause of this condition remains unknown, but studies have concluded that certain biological, genetic, and environmental factors contribute to triggering this disorder. The symptoms of schizophrenia are classified into early, positive, negative, and cognitive symptoms.
- Problems sleeping
- Isolating oneself from friends and family
- Irritability and agitation
- Change in focus and concentration
- Difficulties with schoolwork or poor academic performance
- Movement disorders
- Thought disorders
- Disorganized thinking or speech
- Poor impulse control
- Poor social functioning
- Lack of empathy or emotions
- Odd emotional responses
- Loss of interest in life
- Trouble experiencing pleasure
- Difficulting beginning or completing an activity
- Poor executive functioning
- Lack of insight
- Lack of awareness of the symptoms
- Problems in processing information
Types of schizophrenia
Earlier, this psychiatric condition was divided into five subtypes, but these were eliminated and schizophrenia is now one comprehensive diagnosis. However, these subtypes help doctors and healthcare providers in determining their treatment course. The different types of schizophrenia include:
- Paranoid: Paranoia was considered to be a “positive” symptom of the condition and not a separate type in the year 2013.
- Hebephrenic or disorganized: This type of schizophrenia is characterized by disorganized speech or behaviors. Patients with hebephrenic schizophrenia don’t experience hallucinations or delusions.
- Undifferentiated: This subtype consists of those people who display more than one type of predominant symptom.
- Residual: When an individual displays symptoms of this condition early in life but doesn’t show the same symptoms later, it is classified as residual schizophrenia.
- Catatonic: This subtype consists of those individuals who show signs of mutism or develop a stupor-like effect.
Misconceptions about schizophrenia
There are several misconceptions revolving around this condition, and those suffering from schizophrenia end up being isolated or denied a normal life due to these myths. Some of the misconceptions pertaining to it are as follows:
- People with schizophrenia have multiple personalities: A majority of the population believes that people with this disorder have split or multiple personalities. These false notions arise due to misinformation or due to the portrayal of schizophrenia by the media. The word “schizo” means “split”, but in this case, it refers to the gaps in the person’s ability to think and express their emotions.
- Schizophrenia makes people dangerous: This is one of the biggest misconceptions harbored by people about individuals with this disorder. Popular culture is the culprit here; as it has more often than not depicted those suffering from this condition as violent and unpredictable. Though people with schizophrenia aren’t always in sync with their emotions, they aren’t violent or sadistic as shown in TV shows or movies.
- People with schizophrenia cannot work: Another blatant misconception that prevents people with this disorder from being employed is that they cannot hold a regular job. With the right sort of treatment and help, people can recover from this condition and a proper job will serve as a form of vocational rehabilitation for them. The empowerment and independence that accompanies a job will additionally help them in their recovery process.
- Long-term hospitalization is the only solution: People often believe that the only solution for treating schizophrenics is long-term hospitalization. There are several effective options like outpatient care, acute hospitalization, and a combination of these in most cases. People battling schizophrenia benefit with the support and care of loved ones, and isolating will simply worsen the condition.
- The condition is untreatable: One of the major misconceptions that people believe is that schizophrenia cannot be treated. With the help of medication, rehabilitation, and psychological therapies, people with schizophrenia can not just survive, but thrive with the condition.