Schizophrenia Counseling – Therapists and Counselors in Hanover, VA
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, acts and feels. Individuals with schizophrenia have difficulty maintaining balance within reality and may appear to have lost touch with reality. As a result, the symptoms can be very debilitating.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms of schizophrenia can develop between 16 and 30 years of age. The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three arenas: positive, negative, and cognitive.
Positive symptoms: “Positive” symptoms are where individuals may lose touch with reality and display symptoms of psychotic behaviors. Symptoms include:
- Dysfunctional method of thinking
- Agitated Movements
Negative symptoms: “Negative” symptoms cause disturbances in normal emotions and behaviors. Symptoms include:
- “Flat affect” (reduced expression of emotions via facial expression or voice tone)
- Reduced feelings of pleasure in everyday life
- Difficulty beginning and sustaining activities
- Reduced speaking
Cognitive symptoms: These individuals experience mental dysfunction that impairs their thoughts and ability to make decisions. Symptoms include:
- Reduction in ability to understand information and make decisions
- Difficulty focusing or paying attention
- Problems using information immediately after learning it
There are several factors that contribute to the risk of developing schizophrenia. First, there is a genetic link: schizophrenia can run in families. Research scientists believe that many genetic factors increase the risk of schizophrenia, but that no single gene can be isolated as the cause. Scientists also think that an individual’s environment contribute to the onset of the illness. Environmental factors may involve:
- Exposure to viruses
- Malnutrition before birth
- Problems during birth
- Psychosocial factors
In addition to these risk factors, scientists also believe that a brain imbalance contributes to a chemical reaction that triggers the onset of the illness.
Treatments and Therapies
Causes of schizophrenia are not known and treatments focus on reducing or eliminating the symptoms of the disease.
Antipsychotic medications are usually taken daily in pill or liquid form. These medications have to be carefully monitored by a doctor, as many patients may experience side effects that can make their symptoms worse.
Once a patient has found a successful drug to treat the symptoms, a doctor will refer the patient to a mental health professional to undergo a treatment to help develop daily coping skills. Learning coping skills help patients address everyday challenges of schizophrenia helps and allows them to pursue regular activities and goals. These treatments are helpful and allow for the patient to maintain an acceptable quality of life.
Caring for a loved one with schizophrenia can be extremely difficult. Learning how to interact with them and recognize when additional or professional help is hard and can often mean the difference between life and death in some patients. Schizophrenia is a severe illness and there is support available. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your healthcare professional as soon as possible to get on the path to getting the help that is needed to treat the illness and improve quality of life.
Schizophrenia is one of the most disabling of mental illnesses. It can leave its sufferer struggling with fear and loneliness. Although it is a life-long disease that cannot be cured, there is help and it can be controlled with proper treatment.