Treatment for Schizophrenia in Blacksburg, VA
Split personality? Multiple personalities?
No. Not at all !!
Unfortunately this myth about schizophrenia has caused so much misunderstanding and disinformation, that it may hinder an individual’s ability to get appropriate help for the condition. In actuality, schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, disabling mental illness that affects over 21 million worldwide.
Schizophrenia is typically a chronic condition and people with this diagnosis cope with symptoms throughout life. However, many people with schizophrenia can lead rewarding and meaningful lives in their communities.
Schizophrenia affects both men and women close to equally, although some research points to an earlier onset of symptoms in men. Schizophrenia is found in similar rates in all ethnic groups around the world. Symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions usually start between ages 16 and 30. It is rare for schizophrenia to be diagnosed in a person younger than 12 or older than 40.
Additionally, it can be difficult to diagnose schizophrenia in teens, mostly because the first signs of the illness include symptoms which are also common behaviors among teens. A combination of factors can predict schizophrenia in up to 80 percent of youth who are at high risk of developing the illness. In young people who develop the disease, this stage of the disorder is when most symptoms are vague and easy to miss. These factors include isolating oneself and withdrawing from others, an increase in unusual thoughts and suspicions, and a family history of psychosis. It impacts how one thinks, feels, and behaves, often giving the impression that the person has lost touch with reality.
The first signs of schizophrenia are usually seen in behavioral changes that are confusing or even shocking. Family members or friends must now cope with these symptoms, which is a difficult challenge in and of itself.
Schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, and the symptoms are often debilitating. Schizophrenia exhibits a wide range of symptoms, including some of these:
- Delusions, hallucinations
- Unusual or dysfunctional ways of thinking
- Agitated body movements
- Seeming lack of emotions (i.e., no facial expression or flat voice tones)
- Lessened enjoyment of everyday life
- Difficulty starting and continuing activities
- Reduced speaking
- Little to no ability to understand information and use it to make decisions
- Trouble focusing or paying attention
- Difficulty with “working memory” (the ability to use information immediately after learning it)
- Hearing voices
- Disorganized thoughts/behavior
- Not making sense when they talk; sitting for hours without moving or talking, or seemingly talking to themselves
Making matters worse, such symptoms often cause others to feel fearful or nervous; their disorganized behavior may be frightening, or even be perceived as a threat to others. Families and friends are affected by schizophrenia too. Many people with schizophrenia have difficulty holding a job or taking care of themselves, so they rely on others for help. People suffering from schizophrenia may show signs of aggression or hostility. But the majority of people with schizophrenia are not aggressive and pose much more danger to themselves than to those around them.
The illness and its symptoms can cause major problems in functioning for an individual in various areas of their life, including work, relationships, or self-care. Despite the severity of their symptoms, many people diagnosed with schizophrenia are unaware that they have an illness.
Researchers believe that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to causation the onset and course of this illness. Life stresses may also play a role. Since multiple factors may contribute, scientists cannot yet be specific about the exact cause in any individual case.
Is Schizophrenia a sentence to a hopeless life?
Absolutely not! As with other chronic illnesses, some patients do extremely well while others continue to be symptomatic and need support and assistance. But for most, treatment helps them lead highly productive and rewarding lives.
There are various ways to help people manage the illness and improve their lives. Therapy and supports can help people learn social skills, as well as how to cope with stress. It can also help identify early warning signs of relapse and even help prolong any periods of remission. Because schizophrenia typically strikes in early adulthood, individuals with the disorder often benefit from rehabilitation to help them develop life-management skills. Receiving vocational or educational training usually results in their being able to hold a job.
It’s vital that people living with schizophrenia receive emotional and material support from their family. Such support has been shown to help prevent relapses and improve the overall mental health of the person with schizophrenia. Therefore, it is equally important that the families themselves be provided with education, assistance and support.
Optimism is of the utmost importance, and patients, family members and their mental health professionals should be aware that many patients have a favorable outcome in dealing with this illness. Most challenges can be addressed. Be mindful of the patient’s many personal strengths that can be recognized and supported.
Thriveworks Blacksburg has a highly skilled, trained counselor willing to help you or your family member deal with a schizophrenia diagnosis. Call 540-376-3348 today to schedule an appointment. Take your first step towards coping, understanding, acceptance, and moving forward with your life.