Schizophrenia is a serious brain disorder that can severely affect the quality of life of those living with the disease. Schizophrenia is oftentimes characterized by hallucinations in which the affected individuals hear voices in their heads and have illusions in their minds that the world around them is unsafe. Those with schizophrenia are unable to think clearly, manage their emotions, or make certain decisions as they relate to other people. People with the disease are uncomfortable in social situations and are unable to carry on normal relationships with other people. May 24 is Schizophrenia Awareness Day, and although many people have heard of schizophrenia, there are many facts people do not know about the disease.
1. Many people think that those with schizophrenia are untreatable and will never recover from the disease. However, there are many effective forms of treatments to help those with the disease. From medications to psychosocial treatments, those living with schizophrenia have a lot of options in regards to their treatment and learning to live with the disease. Antipsychotic medications can help the suffering individuals manage their hallucinations. Those already on antipsychotic medication can also undergo psychosocial treatments that will help the suffering individual manage ordinary aspects of everyday life such as communication and establishing relationships.
2. There are many common misconceptions about schizophrenia and how it is caused. Schizophrenia is primarily a genetic disorder that runs in families. Although it occurs in one percent of the population, it has a greater occurrence in those whose family histories include schizophrenia. The disease can also form if an expectant mother is exposed to viruses or suffers from malnutrition before birth as well as if any problems occur during birth.
3. There are different types of schizophrenia: paranoid schizophrenia, disorganized schizophrenia, catatonic schizophrenia, undifferentiated schizophrenia, and residual schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia is the form of the disease most people are familiar with. Those with this form suffer from hallucinations. Disorganized schizophrenia is characterized by a disruption of the individual’s thought process. Catatonic schizophrenia involves a disruption in movement. Undifferentiated schizophrenia is characterized by several symptoms of the other forms of schizophrenia. Residual schizophrenia is usually diagnosed when the affected individual’s symptoms are no longer as severe as they once were.
4. Individuals with schizophrenia are more prone to vehicular accidents. Although many people living with schizophrenia do not drive, those who do drive have an increased chance of having an episode while behind the wheel. Because hallucinations impair judgment and decision-making, it is dangerous for those with schizophrenia to drive.
5. Those with schizophrenia have a high mortality rate because they are often times unable to accurately explain any illnesses they might have to physicians, and physicians who examine them might view the explanation as a part of the hallucination.
Having a family member who suffers from schizophrenia can be very difficult for a family. The most important thing is for the family to be patient and supportive and to get the suffering family member the help he or she needs.