Categories
Schizophrenia

Misconceptions of Schizophrenia

There are many myths about schizophrenia that increase its stigma. The movies and media perpetuate these stereotypes and make it more difficult for people to truly understand the core of this illness, and most importantly, they make it nearly impossible to have people understand those who have schizophrenia. An illness does not define a person. No one should be judged based on their mental health because. The crux of their existence is not their illness, rather the total contrary, the illness is only one of many threads woven together to bring about their individuality.

One common misconception is the idea that those who have schizophrenia are aggressive and violent. This is not true for the majority of people with schizophrenia. According to Ralph Ryback, those who did commit crimes, only 23% of their crimes were related to their symptoms. Due to this misconception, some people who are diagnosed with schizophrenia have an overall reduced quality of life because of the stigma. According to the Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, people with schizophrenia are no more violent than the general population. Andrew Savageau says, “In reality, people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence.”

Schizophrenia symptoms are not limited to delusions and hallucinations. Yes, those are symptoms that transpire triggering a diagnosis, but they are not the only symptoms. Other symptoms include disorganized speech, lack of motivation, and blunted emotions. Contrary to what many think, visual hallucinations aren’t as common as auditory hallucinations, Chris Iliades states that medications can be remedy hallucinations and it usually clears up within seven to ten days after treatment has been started.

Another fallacy is that those with schizophrenia cannot live productive lives due to their diagnosis. Dr. Savageau states that with early treatment, those who are diagnosed often get married, have children, and go about their professional careers. Ramit, a 36-year-old male, was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of 21. His job involves working at the billing counter of an art gallery and at night, he teaches martial arts to children. He lives his life as anyone else would live their lives, despite his mental illness. He is only one of many people with schizophrenia that live a productive and satisfying life.

One other misbelief that is extremely important to debunk is the idea that schizophrenia is not treatable. Treatments such as medications, rehabilitation practices, and psychosocial therapies allow people with the illness to live their lives like anyone else. DeSilva says, “The longer an illness is left untreated, the greater the disruption to the person’s ability to study, work, make friends, and interact comfortably with others.” This goes to show that the earlier the diagnosis, the better the outcome of the treatment. However, it is important to note the difference; schizophrenia is not curable, but it is definitely treatable.

Overall, there are many misconceptions that come along when we think of “schizophrenia”, but we need to look beyond these false ideas plastered in our minds and eventually get rid of the stigma completely. People need to feel comfortable when they need support the most, so why can’t we give it to those with a schizophrenia diagnosis? Reduce the stigma.

References:

Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health. (n.d.). Myths, Half-truths, and Common
Misconceptions about Schizophrenia and Severe and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI).
Retrieved April 20, 2018, from http://www.schizophrenia.ca/docs/Myths Half-truths and Common Misconceptions about Schizophrenia and Severe and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI).pdf

Iliades, C. (2015, August 18). 6 Schizophrenia Myths Debunked. Retrieved
April 20, 2018, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/schizophrenia-caregiver-guide/schizophrenia-myths-debunked-pictures/#07

Rana, M. S. (2015, March 12). People Living with Schizophrenia can also lead a ‘Normal’ Life. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from http://www.globalmentalhealth.org/people-living-schizophrenia-can-also-lead-normal-life

Ryback, R. (2015, November 6). 4 Myths About Schizophrenia (and the Facts You Need to Know). Retrieved April 20, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-truisms-wellness/201511/4-myths-about-schizophrenia-and-the-facts-you-need-know

Tartakovsky, M. (2017, October 08). Living with Schizophrenia. Retrieved April 20, 2018, from
https://psychcentral.com/disorders/schizophrenia/living-with-schizophrenia/

Categories
Schizophrenia

Supporting Families and a Loved One with Schizophrenia

If a family has not dealt with schizophrenia before, it can be challenging when a member is diagnosed. A lot of people aren’t aware of what schizophrenia is and how it affects those who have it. It could be rather difficult, and often frustrating, for families to adjust to the new changes in their lives if a sibling or child begins to show signs of schizophrenia.

According to the article, “Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members & Others” by Brian Smith, friends and family sometimes disassociate with their loved one when the symptoms start to progressively get worse. This happens more often than not, simply because they do not understand, which is truly disheartening. Any person, regardless of what mental illness they have or do not have, requires support from their families. When a person has schizophrenia, they may resist treatment. This is when it is extremely important for family and friends to step up and help them get through a difficult time, and get the proper treatment that they need.

Brian Smith also gives tips to families on how to help their loved one. Family members and friends should speak up for their loved one with schizophrenia when at doctor’s appointments because they may not disclose all their symptoms. Close ones can also help in encouraging them to go for treatment, as they may be resistant. They should also learn how to respond when their loved one is experiencing delusions or hallucinations. It is important not to argue with them because it is very real to them. Keeping track of the medications they are taking, symptoms that they are experiencing, and the severity of symptoms is just as important.

The first episode of schizophrenia can be the hardest, especially since the family may not have any prior experience when trying to work through it. In the article, “Discovering Someone Close to you has Schizophrenia”, a mother with a daughter who was diagnosed with schizophrenia states, “I couldn’t believe our sensible, studious daughter. She had changed into a person I hardly recognized. She refused to change her clothes and said she heard voices telling her she was evil and deserved to die.” It is important for family members to lean on each other for support because together, you can allow the loved one with schizophrenia to have a more successful treatment process.

There are different resources for families to turn to when they are struggling with ways to help their loved one. There are mental health professionals, as well as online forums to talk with other families in the same position. One forum, in particular, has multiple people posting regularly and a lot of people have great insight to give back. They cover any topic having to do with a relative having schizophrenia. Some people share experiences, some ask questions and receive answers from those who have experience. Regardless of the circumstances, families can go on this forum to gain help and advice from other families. Sometimes talking to someone in a similar position helps increase trust their advice because they too understand and maybe experienced similar things in the past. Also, the article, “60 Tips for Helping People who have Schizophrenia” gives some great tips on how to help a loved one, as well as how to help oneself. This article reminds people that there is no one to blame for this diagnosis and it reminds families that they are not alone.

There are many resources for educating and helping friends and family through a new diagnosis of schizophrenia that will make the process a little easier for both families and their loved one. It is important that those with schizophrenia are supported when going through the treatments and dealing with symptoms. Always remember that you are not alone.

References:

Dickens, R. NAMI Sibling and Adult Children Network (n.d.). 60 Tips for Helping People who have Schizophrenia. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.schizophrenia.com/family/60tip.html

Discovering Someone Close to you has Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/schizophrenia/schizophrenia_information_guide/Pages/schizophrenia_Discovering.aspx

Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussions Forum. (n.d.). Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://family.schizophrenia.com/

Smith, B. (2018, January 20). Helpful Hints about Schizophrenia for Family Members & Others. Retrieved March 21, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/helpful-hints-about-schizophrenia-for-family-members-and others/

Categories
Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia in the Workplace

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was established on July 2nd, 1965, specifying multiple laws that protect United States citizens from being discriminated against while on the job hunt. These laws prevent discrimination against race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, genetic information, or age. Despite this act being in place for 53 years now, people with mental health issues continue to grapple with employment opportunities.

Hafal, a mental health charity, stated that only 8% of people with schizophrenia have been able to seek employment while 90% can only hope to one day attain a fulfilling job. It almost seems as if once an organization learns that a potential employee has schizophrenia, the possibility of being hired is out of reach.  

Ms. Davies, a mother of four from Wales and also a person with schizophrenia, says that she would love part of the working world. However, accomplishing something so simple is not as easy as it sounds. There are many hurdles, one of them being that employers question the chance of an episode occurring again at random. She truly believes that the general public associates fear with schizophrenia to a much larger extent than they would with depression and anxiety. Davies also says that the media plays no positive role in destigmatizing schizophrenia. In fact, it has the opposite effect, especially when movies and television shows typically portray characters with schizophrenia as “psychotic killers” or only take into account the grim symptoms one goes through when not taking their medication.

According to an article in the Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology journal, the employment rate in schizophrenia has decreased over the last 50 years in the United Kingdom. This is primarily because of the stigma revolving mental illness and discrimination. The study also sheds light on alleviated symptoms level, increased social functioning, and quality of life. Employment doesn’t hamper a person with schizophrenia, instead, it seems to positively affect their mental health.

Bernadette McSherry, Foundation Director of the Melbourne Social Equity Institute at the University of Melbourne, states that it is utterly up to the potential employee to disclose their disability. Disclosing one’s disability is a weighted decision and factors in many pros and cons. A few of the pros include being able to gain support and educating others on mental health, which could help with destigmatization. On the other hand, the person risks being discriminated against in the workplace, or not being hired at all, despite the fact that the Fair Work Act 2009 states, “An employer must not take adverse action against a person who is an employee, or prospective employee, of the employer because of the person’s… mental disability.” A decision like this seems like a double-edged sword, but one that must be eventually made to gain self-happiness.

Why might this stigma occur? A major influence is the media. Portraying people with schizophrenia as the criminal or the villain, when in reality, this is not the case. We can prevent the stigma by discussing it openly and educating people. There is no need for discrimination in the workplace and maybe, with the help from the community, we can work towards destigmatizing not only schizophrenia but other mental illnesses as well.

References:

BBC News. (2018, January 31). Schizophrenia Stops me Getting a job, says Anglesey woman. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-42894913

Greenstein, L. (2017, October 11). 9 Ways To Fight Mental Health Stigma. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2017/9-Ways-to-Fight-Mental-Health-Stigma

Marwaha, S., & Johnson, S. (2004, May). Schizophrenia and Employment. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00127-004-0762-4

McSherry, Bernadette (2016, February 04). To Disclose or not to Disclose? Mental Health Issues in the Workplace. Retrieved March 03, 2018, from https://theconversation.com/to-disclose-or-not-to-disclose-mental-health-issues-in-the-workplace-52980

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. (2009, November 21). Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions And Answers. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

Categories
Schizophrenia

Therapy Through Art

Art therapy helps patients with schizophrenia, as well as many other mental illnesses, interpret emotions, feelings, and deal with the numerous side effects of medication. There are many different forms of art therapy such as writing, painting, drawing, or sculpting.

The White Swan Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides knowledge regarding mental health services, states that art therapy allows patients to focus on their creative pieces and reduce negative symptoms, which include affective flattening, alogia, or avolition. According to Gina Garippo, art therapy can reduce social and emotional withdrawal and allow for family and friends to understand schizophrenia better. While this method of therapy is usually under the guidance of a therapist, there are some artists that use their experiences with schizophrenia to explore their passion and pour these instances from the past into art as a way of coping.

Antonin Artaud was an artist that found therapy in his work. Born in Marseille, France in 1896, he worked as an actor, poet, and costume designer, mostly well-known for revolutionizing drama with his idea of “Theater of Cruelty.” The “Theater of Cruelty” focuses on “mysterious, primal expressions of sound, movement, and light” (Biography, 2014). This idea was later embraced to be a significant contribution to 20th-century theater. Antonin Artaud was one of few people with schizophrenia who used art as a gateway to exhibit his negative experiences. According to Louis Sass, not only did Artaud delve into the cathartic experience of art, but he also used his writings as a means to prevail over the difficulties of his symptoms of schizophrenia.

Around the age of five, Artaud found himself face to face with a near-death experience; he was diagnosed with meningitis. The repercussions of this life-threatening moment followed him for the remainder of his life. He was said to have suffered from neuralgia, a stabbing pain due to a damaged or irritated nerve, as well as neurasthenia. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent nine years of his life in various mental institutions. It was when Antonin was treated with electroshock, that he took up an interest in drawing and writing.

Artaud’s poem, Le Visage Humain, which in English translates to “The Human Face”, describes a man losing his face. The poem almost acts like a window to Artaud’s mind, allowing readers to visualize his perspective on his illness, his feelings, and most significantly, his strive to grasp on to the few strands of reality he has left. Interestingly enough, Artaud references Van Gogh in this poem, who is also thought to have had schizophrenia.

Overall, using art to cope with the symptoms of any mental illness may be beneficial to the patient. In many of the studies done testing the effectiveness of art therapy, researchers found a significant decrease in psychological symptoms in treatment groups as well as depression. Garippo states that it helps those with schizophrenia because, often, patients will resist standard treatment due to lack of interest. This approach allows patients to work through symptoms in a non-confrontational way so they are less likely to resist treatment.

References:

Antonin Artaud. (n.d.). Retrieved February 17, 2018, from http://www.leninimports.com/antonin artaud.html

Antonin Artaud Biography. (2014, April 02). Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.biography.com/people/antonin-artaud-9189906

Ellis, M. (2017, April 3). Neuralgia: Types, Causes, and Treatments. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.healthline.com/health/neuralgia

Encyclopedia of World Biography . (2004). Antonin Artaud. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.encyclopedia.com/people/literature-and-arts/french-literature-biographies/antonin-artaud

Garippo, G. (2016, September 21). Art Therapy for Schizophrenia. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://healthguides.healthgrades.com/advances-in-schizophrenia/art-therapy-for-schizophrenia

Idixa. (n.d.). The human face has not yet found its face; it’s up to the painter to give it to him, to save him by making him his own traits. Retrieved February 17, 2018, from https://www.idixa.net/Pixa/pagixa-0901260937.html

Rowell, M. (1996). Antonin Artaud: works in paper. New York: The Museum of Modern Art.

Sass, L. A. (2003). “Negative Symptoms”, Schizophrenia, and the Self. International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy, 3, 165-165. Retrieved February 16, 2017, from http://www.ijpsy.com/volumen3/num2/62/negative-symptoms-schizophrenia-and-EN.pdf

Schouten, K. A., Niet, G. J., Knipscheer, J. W., Kleber, R. J., & Hutschemaekers, G. J. (2014). The Effectiveness of Art Therapy in the Treatment of Traumatized Adults. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 16(2), 220-228. doi:10.1177/1524838014555032

White Swan Foundation. (n.d.). Art Therapy For Treatment Of Schizophrenia | White Swan Foundation. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from http://www.whiteswanfoundation.org/article/role-of-art-therapy-in-schizophrenia/

Categories
Schizophrenia

The Connection Between Drug Use And Schizophrenia

A common belief pertaining to illegal drug use is that it can cause schizophrenia, but many researchers believe this to be untrue. Drug use is common among approximately 50% of people with schizophrenia as the patient’s way to alleviate their symptoms. However, according to the Addiction Center, it is argued that drug use for those who are genetically susceptible to schizophrenia is an environmental trigger. One study found that those who were genetically predisposed to schizophrenia had a 30% increased risk of diagnosis with the use of cannabis. The medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Ken Duckworth, states that researching this debate any further would be unethical and unlawful because the study would require researchers giving cannabis to those at risk of schizophrenia.

Coincidentally, drug use can often lead to symptoms that may look very similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia. Drugs such as psychedelics, methamphetamines, cannabis, cocaine, alcohol, recreational drugs, and prescription drugs can cause psychosis. The effects of these drugs can be similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia, in particular, hallucinations and delusions. This is called drug-induced psychosis.

While drug-induced psychosis and schizophrenia are similar in their common symptoms of hallucinations and delusions, symptoms of schizophrenia also include unusual thoughts, confused speech, physical agitation, social withdrawal, and concentration difficulties. The DSM-V provides some criteria for drug-induced psychosis that help differentiate it from the diagnosis of schizophrenia. One of the criteria states that the symptoms cannot be explained by another psychotic disorder, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Also, there must be evidence that the symptoms of psychosis began during substance abuse even though, delusions and hallucinations persist when sober. Lastly, it must cause distress to the patient in order for it to be diagnosed as drug-induced psychosis.

Drug-induced psychosis, on the other hand, is often shown by symptoms of visual hallucinations and delusions. Typically, schizophrenia is a lifelong disorder, most often treatable with antipsychotic medication. Drug-induced psychosis can last days, months, or years, even into sobriety.

One specific form of drug-induced psychosis is cocaine-induced psychosis. A study done by Yilang Tang, Nancy L. Martin, and Robert O. Cotes, states that one-half to three-fourths of cocaine users experience psychosis. In this article, they provide a chart, comparing and contrasting cocaine-induced psychotic disorder (CIPD) and primary psychotic disorders. In CIPD, visual hallucinations are common, whereas in primary psychotic disorders, auditory hallucinations are seen more. Also, negative symptoms are more prominent in primary psychotic disorders.

Tang et al. also state that distinguishing CIPD from primary psychotic disorder is often difficult. Onset, quality of disorder, aggravating factors, and other symptoms must be carefully evaluated. The substance use history of the patient also must be determined in order to give a proper diagnosis.

There is still a lot of debate on whether or not drug use can cause schizophrenia or if it increases the risk for those who are genetically susceptible. There is also drug-induced psychosis that has symptoms that mirror schizophrenia symptoms. These symptoms can be exhibited for as long as years after drug use. The amount of the substance that was used may affect the course of CIPD.

References:

AddictionCenter. (2017, September 12). Schizophrenia and Addiction. Retrieved February 02, 2018, from https://www.addictioncenter.com/addiction/schizophrenia/

Brichford, C. (2009, March 25). Can Drug Use Cause Schizophrenia? Retrieved February 03, 2018, from https://www.everydayhealth.com/schizophrenia/drug-use-and-schizophrenia.aspx

Tackett, B., MA. (2016, January 29). Drug-Induced Psychotic Symptoms. Retrieved February 02, 2018, from https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/drug-induced-psychotic-symptoms/

Tang, Y., Martin, N. L., & Cotes, R. O. (2014). Cocaine-Induced Psychotic Disorders: Presentation, Mechanism, and Management. Journal Of Dual Diagnosis, 10(2), 98. doi:10.1080/15504263.2014.906133

WebMD. (n.d.). Schizophrenia: What About Substance Abuse? (n.d.). Retrieved February 03, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/substance-abuse-schizophrenia

WebMD. (n.d.). What Are the Symptoms of Schizophrenia? Retrieved February 03, 2018, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/schizophrenia-symptoms#1

What Is Drug-Induced Psychosis? (n.d.). Retrieved February 03, 2018, from http://theoakstreatment.com/drug-addiction/drug-induced-psychosis/

Categories
Schizophrenia

Befriending Schizophrenia

Friendships are sacred; they are one of a kind. Friends are there whether you need someone to lean on or just for making great memories. Friends also make going through tough times a little bit easier by being there. The stigma of schizophrenia has led people to believe that those who struggle with the illness are not capable of maintaining friendships, but this is not true. While it is true that some people with schizophrenia find it difficult to have trust in someone, once they do, it is very possible to maintain a friendship.

In fact, friendships make the symptoms of schizophrenia easier. It is always nice to be able to confide in someone. According to Dan Hoeweler, friendships help keep a grasp on reality by building a stronger, healthier mind. In “Schizophrenia and Relationships” by Sherry Rauh, an individual with schizophrenia says that it is nice to have someone to be able to monitor the symptoms by making sure they take their medication, eat regular meals, and stay away from unnecessary stress (Rauh).

It is difficult for some people with schizophrenia to find friendship in people, but according to Rauh, there are steps that individuals can go through in order to help them overcome this. These steps include finding proper medication to control the symptoms, engaging in therapy to practice skills that help maintain friendships, and lastly, practicing social exercises (Rauh).  

Hoeweler states that many people are mislead about schizophrenia and often resist finding friendship with those who suffer. He says, “Good friends are people who will judge you by your good deeds, and not by what your health issues are” (Hoeweler, 2011). This quote goes for any person living with any illness. Getting others to realize that people are not defined by their illness is key to aid in the de-stigmatization of these diseases.

Cathy Cassata, writer for HealthLine, explains how her childhood friend, Jackie, started to develop schizophrenia and it was difficult watching someone you love go through it all. Cassata explains there was no problem a cup of ice cream could not fix when they were young, but it is hard to help someone you love go through a problem that is so serious. All you can do it offer support and sometimes, that is enough. Cassata states, “I hated the heartbreaking situation Jackie was in. I resented the illness that had put her there, but I decided that while this might be part of Jackie’s life now, it would not define her” (Cassata, 2017).

In Cathy’s case, learning about an illness in order to be more informed and help a friend was a difficult task. At times, people may feel helpless while attempting to make their loved one feel better. WebMD offers advice on how to make everyone’s lives easier when dealing with the diagnosis of schizophrenia. The first step is to become educated on the subject matter. It is important to be knowledgeable about schizophrenia, the signs and symptoms, medications that are useful, and resources available. When a loved one is experiencing a hallucination, remain calm and ask if there is anything you could do to help them. Refrain from arguing with them if they do not believe that you are not able to see or hear what they are experiencing (Healthwise Staff).

It is important to make sure that those struggling with schizophrenia take their medication. Although some side effects may be troubling, it is important that the patient understands how much it is truly helping suppress the symptoms of schizophrenia (WebMD).

Despite the stigma, it is possible for people with schizophrenia to make friends and maintain those friendships. Having loved ones in their corner will provide support during their experiences and allow them to confide in someone else.

References:

Cassata, C. (2017, April 24). I Won’t Let Schizophrenia Define Our Friendship. Healthline. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.healthline.com/health/my-friend-and-schizoprenia#8

Healthwise Staff. Schizophrenia – For Family and Friends. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/tc/schizophrenia-for-family-and-friends#1

Healthwise Staff. Schizophrenia: Helping Someone Who Is Hallucinating – Topic Overview. (n.d.). WebMD. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/tc/schizophrenia-helping-someone-who-is-hallucinating-topic-overview

Hoeweler, D. (2011, December 15). Finding Friendship with Schizophrenia. HealthyPlace. Retrieved November 20, 2017, from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/creativeschizophrenia/2011/12/finding-
friendship-with-schizophrenia/

Rauh, S. National Institute of Mental Health. Schizophrenia and Relationships. (n.d). WebMD. Retrieved November 25, 2017, from https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/features/schizophrenia-and-relationships#2

Categories
Schizophrenia

What Color is the Letter “E”?

Have you ever tasted a word or smelled a color? The combination of the independent senses is known as synesthesia. Synesthesia is heritable a neurological condition that when one sense is activated, an unrelated sense is also triggered (Gross). Synesthesia is not considered a disorder, just a rare condition. This condition affects 1 in 2,000 people. According to Alina Bradford, 20-25% of creative artists such as writers and musicians have this condition (Bradford, 2017). It is also said that women are three times more likely to experience it than men in the United States. Those who are left-handed are also more likely to experience synesthesia.

The most common form of synesthesia is seeing colored letters or numbers, this is called grapheme-color synesthesia. In grapheme-color synesthesia, it is the blending of two different regions of the brain working together (Synesthesia, 2017). Bradford describes other forms of synesthesia as smelling scents when hearing sounds, seeing music as colors, tasting words, and seeing a specific color when feeling pain (Bradford, 2017). There are multiple forms of this condition, which allows everyone to have a different experience. There are many famous people who experience synesthesia, specifically chromesthesia, such as Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Pharrell Williams, and Vincent Van Gogh. Chromesthesia is the form of synesthesia that allows people to see a color associated with a sound (Anderson, 2013). Another performer who experiences chromesthesia is Patrick Stump from the band, Fall Out Boy, as well as grapheme-color synesthesia (Elise, 2016).

According to the Los Angeles Times, other neurological disorders, such as schizophrenia, are also associated with abnormal communication between brain regions, similar to synesthesia (Dayton, 2012). While most synesthetes are “neurologically normal” according to Melissa Lee Phillips, schizophrenic patients can also experience similar symptoms. According to SchizLife, Anwar Sarhan, Haitham Jahrmi, and Michael T. Compton’s research study on the relationship between synesthesia and schizophrenia shows the similarities between the two. Their participants included chronic schizophrenia patients who were shown three presentations of objects which had colors while others did not. The results of this experiment showed that 73% of subjects saw colors, even when there weren’t colors present. This infers that synesthesia could be a marker of schizophrenia (Sarhan et. al, 2008).

Synesthesia could possibly be confused with schizophrenic hallucinations. Those who first experience synesthesia may be led to believe that they are “hallucinating”, but as told by Wikihow contributors, “what distinguishes true synesthesia experiences from hallucinations is that they are repeatable and predictable, not fanciful and random” (Wikihow, 2017). The way to differentiate between the two is that hallucinations are erratic, whereas synesthesia experiences are always consistent.

However, experiencing synesthesia is not always caused by schizophrenia. While some schizophrenic patients have this neurological condition, it is possible to experience synesthesia without having schizophrenia. Most individuals who have synesthesia are proud that they are able to experience the world in a unique way. Being able to see color while listening to music or to smell a certain scent when hearing a sound is rare, and those who are able to experience it pity those who don’t. According to Veronica Gross, it is only disturbing to synesthetes when a scent or sound creates an unpleasant synesthetic experience (Gross).

          To hear more about what it is like living with synesthesia, click here.

References:

Anderson, E. (2013, December 16). Chromesthesia: Feeling Music in Colours. Noisey. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/rjqwzg/youneedtohearthis-chromesthesia-feeling-music-in-colours

Bradford, A. (2017, October 18). What Is Synesthesia? Livescience. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://www.livescience.com/60707-what-is-synesthesia.html

Dayton, L. (2012, February 20). The Blended Senses of Synesthesia. Latimes. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-synesthesia-brain-20120220-story.html

Elise, K. (2016, November 10). 12 Famous Artists With Synesthesia. Mental Floss. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from http://mentalfloss.com/article/88417/12-famous-artists-synesthesia

Grapheme Color Synesthesia. (2017). Synesthesia. Retrieved November 16, 2017, from
https://synesthesia.com/blog/index.php/grapheme-color-synesthesia-seeing-letters-numbers-colors/

Gross, V. (n.d.). The Synesthesia Project. Boston University. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://www.bu.edu/synesthesia/faq/#q5

Phillips, M. L. (n.d.). Synesthesia. Washington University. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/syne.html

Sarhan, A., Jahrmi, H., & Compton, M. T. (2008). A Potential Novel Paradigm for Testing
Digit-color Synesthetic-like Experiences in Schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research,
98(1), 329-330. 

Synesthesia and Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved November 09, 2017, from http://www.schizlife.com/synesthesia-and-schizophrenia/

Wikihow. (2017, October 04). How to Tell if You Have Synesthesia. Retrieved November 09, 2017, from https://www.wikihow.com/Tell-if-You-Have-Synesthesia

Categories
Schizophrenia

The PACE Clinic: A Potential Breakthrough

Schizophrenia affects 1% of the population worldwide. If schizophrenia is inherited and runs in the family, that risk increases by approximately 10% (Mejia, 2014). Awareness of a genetic risk factor, prior to onset, may be beneficial to the person potentially at risk, especially if caught at an early age. One way clinicians are trying to combat the potential risk of schizophrenia is a method called the Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation (PACE) Clinic.

The PACE Clinic is an intervention prior to the potential onset of schizophrenia. According to the Medical Journal of Australia, this method is meant to delay or prevent the onset or severity of the symptoms of schizophrenia (Yung et al, 2007). Symptoms shown preceding the diagnosis of schizophrenia are called the prodromal phase. According to the medical dictionary, prodromal means, “pertaining to early symptoms that may mark the onset of a disease”. Around 35% of patients meeting the prodromal criteria develop a psychotic disorder within a year (Yung et al, 2007).

It is often hard to tell what prodromal symptoms are compared to those of other illnesses. These pre-onset symptoms are not the usual schizophrenia symptoms described in the DSM-5, such as hallucinations, delusions, or disorganized speech (APA, 2013). Distinctive signs in the prodromal phase typically include depressed mood, sleep problems, and anxiety. The issue for these prodromal indicators is that they could possibly be mistaken for psychosis, when in reality they are another mental disorder such as depression or anxiety (Yung & Nelson, 2011).

This type of intervention, according to Alison Yung, uses methods such as cognitively oriented psychotherapy and low-dose antipsychotic medication. The Orygen Youth Health explains the treatment as involving visiting homes, supporting families, involving the patient in group programs and participation, giving neuropsychological and occupational therapy interventions, and referring the patient to other community agencies (Orygen Youth Health). Individuals are monitored regularly under the supervision of doctors (Parker & Lewis, 2006). These are all methods to help delay or prevent the development of psychosis.

One disadvantage to the PACE study is that there may be false positives when it comes to diagnosing the prodromal phase. With these false positives, patients are often given unnecessary treatment because they don’t actually meet the prodromal criteria (Yung et al, 2007).

As the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry states, the criteria for the Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation clinic is now being utilized by many clinical research programs to see how beneficial it is for those with the prodromal criteria. Through this research, it is now possible that researchers can identify when people are at risk of developing schizophrenia (Yung et al, 2000). With this knowledge, we could possibly reduce the rate of schizophrenia by providing these services to those at risk. The ability to delay or prevent the development of schizophrenia can help many patients who will be diagnosed.

References:

Mejia, P. (2016, February 29). Schizophrenia Is Actually Eight Distinct Genetic Disorders: New Study. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/schizophrenia-actually-eight-distinct-genetic-disorders-According-new-study-271407

PACE (Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation). (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2017, from http://oyh.org.au/our-services/clinical-program/continuing-care-teams/pace-personal-assessment-and-crisis-evaluation

Parker, S., & Lewis, S. (2006). Identification of young people at risk of psychosis. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment, 12, 249-255. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://apt.rcpsych.org/content/aptrcpsych/12/4/249.full.pdf

Phillips, L. J., Yung, A. R., & McGorry, P. D. (2000, December 1). Identification of Young People at Risk of Psychosis: Validation of Personal Assessment and Crisis Evaluation Clinic Intake Criteria. Retrieved October 13, 2017, from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1080/000486700239?journalCode=anpa

The Free Dictionary by Farlex. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2017, from http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/prodromal

Yung, A. R., McGorry, P. D., Francey, S. M., Nelson, B., Baker, K., Phillips, L. J., . . . Amminger, G. P. (2007, October 01). PACE: a specialised service for young people at risk of  psychotic disorders. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2007/187/7/pace-specialised-service-young-people-risk-psychotic-disorders

Yung, A. R., & Nelson, B. (2011). Young people at ultra high risk for psychosis: research from the PACE clinic. Retrieved October 12, 2017, from http://www.scielo.br/pdf/rbp/v33s2/03.pdf

Categories
Schizophrenia

Autism or Schizophrenia: A Common Misdiagnosis

If a child is socially withdrawn and does not make eye contact when communicating with others, is the diagnosis schizophrenia or autism (Dvir & Frazier, 2011)? The two overlap because in most cases of schizophrenia, patients are often diagnosed during late adolescence to early thirties (WebMD, 2016). Therefore, a diagnosis earlier in age is rare and often becomes misdiagnosed. According to the DSM-5, schizophrenic symptoms are categorized as either positive or negative and include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, and catatonia, which is an irregularity in motor movement (APA, 2013). Although this disorder is commonly diagnosed in young adults during late adolescence, there have been rare cases of schizophrenia in youth, which are those under the age of eighteen. While the likelihood of typical schizophrenia is 1% of people globally, the likelihood of childhood schizophrenia is 1 in 40,000 (Gochman, Miller, & Rapoport, 2011).

When a child is being evaluated by a psychologist, most often their early onset schizophrenia can be misdiagnosed as autism spectrum disorder, due to their overlap in social dysfunction symptoms (University of Texas at Dallas, 2012). In the first two editions of the DSM (APA, 1952 & 1968), autism spectrum disorder was a subcategory under schizophrenia . It was considered, “schizophrenia, childhood type” (Barlati, Deste, Ariu, & Vita, 2016). It was not until the publication of the third DSM that autism became its own category called “Infantile Autism”, which eventually was given the more expressive term, “Autism Disorder” (Project Autism, n.d).

According to a case study done by Shilpa A. Telgote, Shreyas Shrikant Pendharkar, Amol D. Kelkar and Sachin Bhojane, early onset schizophrenia, as opposed to typical schizophrenia is diagnosed prior to the age of eighteen. A diagnosis  earlier than thirteen years of age is considered very early onset schizophrenia, or VEOS. In this case study, it is mentioned that the likelihood of a very early onset diagnosis increases if the patient has a family history of schizophrenia, or any schizophrenic spectrum disorders. Those diagnosed early on exhibit the same symptoms as those who are diagnosed later in life, however they tend to show signs of irregularities in language development, as well as motor and social development (Telgote, Shrikant, Pendharkar, Kelkar, & Bhojane, 2017).  

Oprah Winfrey interviewed with Dr. Judith Rapoport, the chief of the National Institute of Mental Health’s child psychiatry (Winfrey, 2009). Rapoport gives us a little more knowledge of early onset of schizophrenia. When Oprah asked the question, “How are childhood schizophrenia symptoms different than those associated with adult schizophrenics?”, her response states  that adult schizophrenia is more of sudden, whereas in childhood schizophrenia, it’s gradual. In the case study referenced before, their patient’s symptoms were also showing up gradually at the age of nine (Telgote, Shrikant, Pendharkar, Kelkar, & Bhojane, 2017). Rapoport also talks about the commonality for children to have an imaginary friend. In fact, having an imaginary friend shows that the child is functioning very well, but in the case of children suffering from schizophrenia, it becomes more of a disturbance in the home (Winfrey, 2009).

Overall, early onset schizophrenia, although rare, is possible and often mistook for autism. While the symptoms may overlap, they are considered two separate disorders in the DSM-5. It is vital that we spread awareness about this common misdiagnosis to allow children to receive the proper diagnosis so they can be treated in the best way possible.

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. Washington, D.C: American Psychiatric Association.

Barlati, S., Deste, G., Ariu, C., & Vita, A. (2016). Autism Spectrum Disorder and Schizophrenia: Do They Overlap? International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience, 18(01). doi:10.4172/1522-4821.1000318

Childhood Schizophrenia Q&A. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://www.oprah.com/health/childhood-schizophrenia-symptoms-and-causes/all

Dvir, Y., & Frazier, J. A. (2011, March 15). Autism and Schizophrenia. Retrieved October 03, 2017, from http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/autism/autism-and-schizophrenia

Gochman, P., Miller, R., & Rapoport, J. L. (2011). Childhood-Onset Schizophrenia: The Challenge of Diagnosis. Current Psychiatry Reports, 13(5), 321–322. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-011-0212-4

History of Autism. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://projectautism.org/history-of-autism

Telgote, S. A., Pendharkar, S. S., Kelkar, A. D., & Bhojane, S. (2017). Very Early-onset Schizophrenia with Secondary Onset Tic Disorder. Indian Journal Of Psychological Medicine, 39(4), 519-522. doi:10.4103/0253-7176.211739

University of Texas at Dallas. (2012, February 28). Study compares traits of autism,schizophrenia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 28, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120228114312.htm

Categories
Schizophrenia

Famous Faces, Mysterious Minds

What comes to mind when you hear the word “schizophrenia”?

According to Healthy Place, schizophrenia is one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses (Oberg, 2014), but why is that? Medication and therapy are beneficial in relieving the symptoms experienced by those diagnosed with schizophrenia. There are three individuals that are helping fight this stigma and some of these individuals are quite renowned, such as John Nash, Darrell Hammond, and Tom Harrell. These three men have been through the troubles of this disorder, yet they didn’t let it stop them from living their lives, evidently proving the stigma wrong.

A Beautiful Mind, a film, is based on John Nash’s experiences living with schizophrenia while also achieving his goals as a mathematician and economist. He was successful in his career, so much so that he won the Nobel Prize for his contribution of game theory. He later shares that he was experiencing schizophrenic delusions while working on this theory (Living With Schizophrenia, 2017). Delusions were not the only symptom he experienced, he also experienced hallucinations. While he was in and out of hospitals all throughout his adulthood, he persevered. His symptoms were troubling, but he managed to overcome them, saying they eventually “disappeared” with age (Rettner, 2015). Nash had many accomplishments while his symptoms were at an all-time high, yet he rose above them through medication and therapy.

Tom Harrell, a jazz musician, is also affected with schizophrenia. Rebecca Leung, writer for CBS news, stated that Harrell would often disappear suddenly, attempted suicide, and had hasty mood swings (Leung, 2003). Forbes claims that Tom Harrell was bouncing around different medications, constantly struggling with either the symptoms of his mental illness or side effects from the medications. Harrell still claims to see a grey figure every so often, but when he plays his trumpet or flugelhorn, it all goes away. He battles his illness every day, but doesn’t let it stop him from living his life to the fullest and pursuing what he loves. According to his official website, he has recorded 27 albums as well as performed in thousands of concerts (Tom Harrell, n.d). He’s living his dream, despite the obstacles life has thrown at him.

Often, those who don’t seem like they are in need of help are those who need it the most. Darrell Hammond, former “Saturday Night Live” cast member, severely struggled with schizophrenia. CNN held an interview with him where he described his childhood and the horrific abuse he grew up with (Simon, 2011). He was diagnosed with multiple disorders, schizophrenia being one of them. He would inflict wounds upon himself while backstage of the show. In the interview, he even stated that he was once taken to a hospital in a straitjacket after filming (Simon, 2011). Towards the end of the interview, he says, “I don’t feel ashamed of falling down, because I got hit by a Mack truck…The fact is, I kept trying to get back up, and then I did” (Simon, 2011). This statement proves to those who are currently suffering that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Hammond was able to put a smile on millions of fans faces while dealing with his own problems. Through it all, he fell off the horse, but he got right back on.

While schizophrenia is one of the most stigmatized mental illnesses, Nash, Harrell, and Hammond were able to prove this stigma wrong and they did not withstand the obstacles they were faced with. All three men were all successful in their careers and didn’t let their illness define them. Mental illnesses do not define you, you define them. Through their work, these men were able to send this message to those struggling as well.

References:

Famous People and Schizophrenia. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2017, from http://www.schizophrenia.com/famous.htm

Herper, M. (2005, June 15). Jazz, Schizophrenia And Side Effects. Retrieved September 14, 2017, from   
https://www.forbes.com/2005/06/15/jazz-schizophrenia-side-effects-cx_mh_0615jazz.html

Leung, R. (2003, August 20). A Beautiful Note. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/a-beautiful-note/

Living With Schizophrenia. (2017, September). John Nash. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.livingwithschizophreniauk.org/john-nash/

Oberg, B. (2014, October 28). Are Some Mental Illnesses More Stigmatized Than Others? Retrieved September 14, 2017, from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2014/10/are-some-mental-illnesses-more-stigmatized-than-others/

Rettner, R. (2015, June 4). “Beautiful Mind” John Nash’s Schizophrenia “Disappeared” as He Aged. Retrieved September 15, 2017, from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/beautiful-mind-john-nash-s-schizophrenia-disappeared-as-he-aged/

Shipkowski, B. (2015, May 24). John Nash: A life of great struggle and greater success.
Retrieved September 14, 2017, from http://www.detroitnews.com/story/obituaries/2015/05/24/john-nash-life-great-struggle-greater-success/27887233/

Simon, M. (2011, October 25). ‘SNL’s’ Darrell Hammond reveals dark past of abuse. Retrieved    
September 14, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/24/showbiz/celebrity-news-gossip/darrell-hammond-abuse/index.html

Tom Harrell. (n.d.). Retrieved September 14, 2017, from http://www.tomharrell.com/about.php