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/