Schizophrenia Facts That Get You Thinking

schizophrenia factsRemember that movie A Beautiful Mind about Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Forbes Nash? He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and the movie gave us a real glimpse of what goes on in the mind of someone with this condition. For a person with schizophrenia, the world is a jumble of confused sounds, images and thoughts. Knowing a few schizophrenia facts will help you understand what it is –and isn’t. Here is a course that shows you how to cope with living with someone diagnosed with a mental illness.

A mental disorder, schizophrenia is characterized by poor emotional responses and a breakdown in thinking. Symptoms commonly include lack of motivation, lack of emotions, disorganized thinking and delusions like hearing noises or voices that aren’t there. Schizophrenia causes significant work and social problems. Typically, symptoms begin in early adulthood.  Its diagnosis is based on the reported experiences of a person and on observed behavior.

It Affects Your Ability to Think

Basically, the disorder affects your ability to think. It also contributes to chronic problems with behavior. People that have this condition usually have other issues as well such as anxiety disorders and major depression. The occurrence of substance user disorders in a lifetime is almost fifty per cent. Homelessness, poverty, long term unemployment and other social problems are common as well.

Men Get it Earlier

In men, schizophrenia develops somewhat earlier when compared to women. Most males get diagnosed between sixteen and twenty-five years of age while most females get symptoms many years later. In women, schizophrenia develops later in life and the incidence in those over-thirty is noticeably higher. For all people, it is quite rare to develop schizophrenia under ten years of age or over forty.

Genetics Has to Do With It

It appears that important contributory factors include social and psychological processes, early environment and genetics. Some prescription and recreation drugs do tend to worsen or cause the symptoms. There have been debates triggered by many different symptoms combinations that have to do with whether this diagnosis represents many different syndromes or one single disorder.

So Does the Environment

Prenatal stress, drug use and the living environment are also associated with schizophrenia developments due to environmental factors. Styles of parenting seem to have no major effect although persons with parents that support them do much better than those with hostile or critical parents. The risk of psychosis is increased by being abused, bullied, separated from the family and childhood trauma. The risk of schizophrenia goes up a notch or two due to living in an urban environment as an adult or as a child. Also playing an important role are other factors such as immigration and social isolation related to poor housing conditions, unemployment, family dysfunction, racial discrimination and social adversity.

Those Born in the Winter Season Have Increased Risks

Factors like infection, hypoxia, malnutrition and stress in the mother during development as a fetus may result in increased risks of schizophrenia in adult years. Also, people born in the spring or in winter also have a five to eight per cent increased risk as well, which may be due to increased rates of in-utero viral exposures.

It Has Greek Roots

The origin of the term schizophrenia comes from the root words ‘to split,’ or ‘skhizein,’ and ‘mind,’ or ‘phren.’ Contrary to popular belief, multiple personality disorder or a split personality is not the same as schizophrenia. Instead, the word reflects the presentation of an illness since it means ‘splitting of mental functions.’

It Happens to Young People

The peak periods for the onset of schizophrenia are late adolescence and early adulthood, which are the years critical in the vocational and social development of a young adult. To lessen the associated developmental disruptions of schizophrenia, a lot of work has been done to treat and identify its pre-onset phase, also known as the prodromal phases of the illness. Before the onset of symptoms, the prodromal phase has been detected up to thirty months. Those who end up with the condition sometimes experience self-limiting or transient symptoms of psychosis as well as some non-specific symptoms that include clumsiness, dysphoria, irritability, and social withdrawal during the prodromal phase.

It Can Be Treated

Like most conditions, the earlier that there is a diagnosis of schizophrenia, the better the person’s outcome and the better the chances of recovering. Anti-psychotic medication is the mainstay of treatment which mainly suppresses the activity of the dopamine receptor. In treating schizophrenia, social rehabilitation, job training and therapy are also important. In cases which are more serious, when there are risks to others or to the self, it may be necessary to require involuntary rehabilitation, although these days, hospital stays are now less frequent and shorter than they used to be.

There is A Shorter Life Expectancy

For people with schizophrenia, the average life expectancy is about twelve to fifteen years less than those who don’t have it. This is mainly due to the higher rate of suicide and increased problems of physical health that people who have it go through.

You Hear Voices

People that have schizophrenia do hear voices and go through other hallucinations. Disorganized speech and thinking are also some of the symptoms as well as delusions that are persecutory or bizarre in nature. Schizophrenics may be socially withdrawn, speak in sentences that are connected loosely, lose their train of thought, be sloppy in hygiene and dress, have poor judgement and lose their motivation. Often, there is an observable pattern of a lack of responsiveness and a pattern of emotional difficulty. Schizophrenia is also associated with social cognition impairment, social isolation and symptoms of paranoia. Difficulties in speed of processing, executive functioning, maintaining attention, long term memory and working also occur commonly. There is a subtype that is not as common where a person remains motionless in positions that are bizarre, is largely mute or exhibits catatonia or purposeless agitation. About thirty to fifty per cent of people suffering from this condition do not have insight and do not accept either its condition or its treatments. Insight does get affected by treatment. Schizophrenics usually find it difficult to perceive facial emotions in others.

Symptoms are Either Positive or Negative

Often, schizophrenia is described in terms of negative or positive symptoms. Negative symptoms are deficits of normal thought process or normal responses of emotions. This type does not respond well to medication. Commonly, they include lack of motivation, lack of desire to form relationships, inability to experience pleasure, poverty of speech and little emotion. It appears that negative symptoms contribute more to being a burden to others, having poor functional ability and a low quality of life. Many times, people with symptoms that are mostly negative have histories of poor adjustments before the schizophrenia was diagnosed. There is also usually a limited response to medication.

There are also positive symptoms which most people do not experience normally but do appear in those with schizophrenia. These can include disordered speech, disorganized thoughts and delusions. It can also include gustatory, olfactory, visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations, regarded typically as a manifestation of psychosis. Typically, hallucinations are also related to the content of the delusional themes. Generally, positive symptoms respond to medications.

There Are Strong Associations to Smoking

There are strong associations between smoking and schizophrenia. Using cigarettes are particularly high in schizophrenics with an estimated range of ninety per cent being regular smokers compered to twenty per cent of the population. The ones that do smoke tend to be heavy smokers and select high nicotine content cigarettes. There are suggested evidence that paranoid schizophrenia may have better prospects than other schizophrenic types for occupational functioning and independent living. Here is a course about making a commitment to stop smoking for life called, “A Drinking Recovery System” which is a self-help guide to help you quit using drugs, drinking and smoking that you might be interested in.

It Is Disabling

A major cause of disability, schizophrenia ranks third as the condition most disabling after dementia and quadriplegia and ahead of blindness and paraplegia. About three-fourths of schizophrenics have relapses and on-going disability.  Some people do function well in society and recover completely. Most live with independently with support from the community.

It Costs

Schizophrenia has great economic and human costs. This results in a life expectancy decrease of between ten and twenty-five years. Primarily, the reason for this is due to its association with smoking, sedentary lifestyles, a poor diet, obesity and increased rates of suicide. In the USA the costs of schizophrenia including direct costs for long term care, drugs,, inpatient and outpatient factors as well as costs for non-health-care such as unemployment, reduced productivity in the work place and law enforcement was estimated in 2002 to be almost $63 billion.

It Can Be Treated

Anti-psychotic medication is the first line of psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia, which reduces the positive psychosis symptoms in about two weeks. These medications fail to affect cognitive dysfunction and negative symptoms, however. Continuous use of these anti-psychotic medication decreases the risks of relapsing.  For individuals who are unable or unwilling to regularly take medications, long acting anti-psychotic depot preparations can be used for achieving control. These reduce risks of a relapse to a degree greater than medications that are orally taken. When combined with psycho-social intervention, these improve long term treatment adherence. For people who stop showing symptoms for more than a year the American Psychiatric Association suggests stopping anti-psychotics. Are you recovering from a disabling disease such as schizophrenia? Here is an article on dealing with anxiety that can help ease your mind as you undergo treatment.

LSD and Cannabis Cause a Relapse

The use of cannabis can trigger the first episode in people with a predisposition to psychosis such as schizophrenia. LSD and cannabis can cause a relapse. Once triggered, this condition and all of its disabling symptoms lasts for their entire lives. Here is a course about chemical dependence and all its costs you may want to take.

A Different Name in Japan

In Japan, the term for schizophrenia was changed in 2002 from ‘mind split disease’ or ‘Seishin-Bunretsu-Byo’ to ‘integration disorder’ or ‘Tog-shitcho-sho’ so that stigma might be reduced. The biopsychosocial model inspired the new name. In just three years, it increased the number of patients informed of the diagnosis from thirty seven per cent to seventy per cent.

Hope this helps! If you or someone you know has been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia, here is a course called Mental Reform Health Act 2013 that could let you in on government benefits you or someone you know may be entitled to.