Schizophrenia impacts more than 1 million people a year and is one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses in America. The symptoms of schizophrenia and those who live day to day with the illness are often surrounded by fear and myths because of both inadequate education and little awareness of the disease. The only way to truly help those who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia is to distinguish the truth from the misinformation out there so that they may live healthy, happy lives.
Schizophrenia is often wrongly associated with split personalities, violent tendencies and psychotic / homicidal behavior. The term schizophrenia does mean “split mind,” but that is not to say that people who suffer from schizophrenia have split personalities, or dissociative identity disorder, which is something else entirely with its own causes, symptoms, and treatments.
Instead, people living with schizophrenia can experience a wide range of symptoms and they all don’t experience the same exact symptoms. These symptoms fall under three different headings: positive, negative and cognitive. Notice that none of these symptoms hint at a tendency towards violence.
‘Positive/ Psychotic’ Symptoms
Before the term “psycho” took on its pop-culture definition that it has today, it came from the Greek word psykho, simply meaning mental or consciousness. Neither synonyms have a negative connotation on their own. Positive or psychotic symptoms refer to the way the symptoms affect a person’s overall personality or life. Such symptoms include:
- Imaginary situations: losing touch with reality.
- Audio hallucinations: hearing voices.
- Delusions: seeing things that are not truly there.
Negative symptoms are side effects of schizophrenia that deprive a person of parts of their personality, consciousness or normalcy such as:
- Devoid of emotion, facial expressions, pleasure or interest.
- Inability to start or even follow through with any given activity.
- Difficulties with social cues or carrying on meaningful conversations.
The term cognitive means “to know,” therefore, people living with schizophrenia may show cognitive disorder symptoms, which means they experience the following:
- inability to prioritize tasks;
- inability to prioritize memories or thoughts; and
- show a lack of awareness concerning illness.
Diagnosis and New Findings on Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is one of the more rare mental illnesses, and only affects about one percent of people. The illness usually appears between late puberty and young adulthood, or between 16 and 25 years old, though women sometimes develop or show symptoms later than men do. Proper and conclusive diagnosis can often take several tests and several months of therapy because psychologists need to rule out any other external factors such as depression, drug or substance abuse, or even a brain tumor.
When it comes to causes of schizophrenia, scientists can only agree on one thing: there is not just one single factor that causes someone to develop the illness. Instead, there may be more than 100 factors. Using the genetic code of more than 150,000 people where 25 percent had schizophrenia, scientists discovered that 108 genetic spots were likely to make a person susceptible to schizophrenia. Subjects who had these present markers were 15 percent more likely to have the illness than not. Yet, the possibility of developing schizophrenia was even more complicated than that because of additional environmental causes.
If genetics only played a role in development, then schizophrenia could clearly and concretely be tracked through bloodlines, but that is simply not the case. A person is extremely unlikely ( ~ > 1%) to develop schizophrenia if there is no previous evidence in their family. If a distant relative has schizophrenia, then the likelihood of it being passed on is still only 10 percent. Even if two parents have schizophrenia, the likelihood of their children developing it is only 20 percent. Therefore, environmental factors that can affect a developing fetus play a joint role with genetic causes. Environmental causes can be an autoimmune disorder, lack of vitamin D, or an emotional trauma.
Treatment and the State of Texas’ Mental Health Ratings
Treatment of schizophrenia can come in many forms such as medication or cognitive therapy, which help patients recognize their specific symptoms, restructure their brain pathways, or recognize when they may be close to a psychotic episode.
When it comes to public awareness, understanding and treatment, each state in the U.S. has its own set of laws, regulations and parameters. In 2009, the National Alliance on Mental Illness gave a rating to states across America based on the following four criteria:
- Health promotion and measurement
- Financing and core treatment / recovery services
- Consumer & family empowerment
- Community integration and social inclusion
Not a single state in the U.S. received higher than a ‘B’ rating while many states received a failing grade.
Get Treatment for Schizophrenia
If you believe that you are currently suffering from schizophrenia and may need treatment in the Dallas area, contact The Holiner Group today for a professional evaluation.