You may think you know all about schizophrenia, but in reality it is a very complex and serious disorder that is difficult to understand. In honor of Schizophrenia Awareness Day on May 24, I have compiled some interesting information about the disorder.
Because of movies and television, a lot of people believe that schizophrenia refers to people with multiple personalities. Schizophrenia actually presents a wide range of symptoms that have nothing to do with split personalities.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of schizophrenia can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech and behavior, and general inability to function normally.
The medical term for split personalities is Dissociative Identity Disorder, which does refer to a person having two or more identities (WebMD).
Schizophrenia is extremely rare, only occurring in about 1% of the population. Scientists have found that genetics play a strong role in the likelihood of developing schizophrenia. The chances of having the disorder increase significantly if you have a relative who suffers from it (NIMH).
The symptoms of schizophrenia are caused by chemical imbalances and faulty connections in the brain (NIMH).
Schizophrenia is not contagious. Given the rarity of the disorder, if you don’t have a relative who has it, then chances are you probably won’t, either.
There is a variety of treatment options for people suffering from schizophrenia. One very popular option is antipsychotic medication. While this medicine will not sure schizophrenia, it can help cut down on symptoms and allow the patient to function more normally (WebMD).
Therapy is available for patients to learn coping mechanisms.
In severe cases, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) can be employed. ECT sends electric currents to the patient’s brain while he/she is under anesthesia. ECT is controversial, and its efficacy is highly debatable (Patient.co.uk).
With proper treatment, medical professionals can alleviate the symptoms of schizophrenia to help patients live more normal lives.
There are some possible complications that can arise as a result of schizophrenia. Some patients develop drug and/or alcohol problems by trying to self-medicate.
Physical illnesses can manifest as a result of inactivity, or as side effects of medications.
The worst and most tragic complication associated with schizophrenia is, of course, suicide (New York Times).
Approximately one-third of America’s homeless population suffers from schizophrenia (Schizophrenia.com).
Obviously, living on the streets makes it more difficult for those afflicted with schizophrenia to receive treatment. Therefore, the homeless’ mental illnesses are far less likely to improve.