Living with Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a disorder that has many areas involved in it including major disturbances in perception, language, thought, emotion, and behavior. It is really sad to know that some people have such severe cases that they cannot operate in the everyday world and are forced to be institutionalized. World-wide we see that at least one in every 250 people is affected by schizophrenia at some point in their lives (Karagianis, Hill, 2010).
This is quite a large amount of people when you break it down, this is showing that just here in the United States there are approximately 1,360,000 people affected by schizophrenia some point in their life. With science growing everyday most of us are unaware of the new discoveries that are found about this awful disorder that plagues such are a large number of our world’s population. New founded science shows us that medications as well as a comfortable environment can actually help control some of the symptoms of schizophrenia (Smerud, Rosenfarb, 2011).
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Some may wonder how this disease came about, well that answer is a little more complex than you might think, schizophrenia originated in the 1900’s and even after decades of research many people affected by the disease fail to maintain normal patterns of goal orientated behavior (Heerly, Matveeva, Gold, 2011). Without the knowledge of this disease our world will continue to be effected with little or no hope of a cure. When a case of schizophrenia is diagnosed to be severe a person may actually lose all hope in continuing their life.
Severe cases have many symptoms such as hallucinations, disorganized behavior, and disorganized speech. There are three main types of schizophrenia, paranoid schizophrenia, disorganized schizophrenia, and catatonic schizophrenia. Paranoid schizophrenia is absurd or suspicious ideas or beliefs, disorganized schizophrenia is when a person gradually retreats into his/her own fantasies, this normally comes on at a younger age, and catatonic schizophrenia is when someone has a disturbance in movement which in most cases is a decrease in motor activity (Purdon, Waldie, Woodward, Wilman, Tibbo, 2011).
Knowing the difference in the types of schizophrenia can be vital in how you attempt to treat an individual who has been diagnosed. There are many ways that can help control the symptoms of schizophrenia and even though there is not a cure, these strategies can actually help one who suffers from the disease live a relatively normal life. One way to help is to use family and close relatives to show the patient that they have support. However, it is imperative that family and close relatives give a patient with schizophrenia room and try not to crowd them as they will most likely panic (Delevoye-Terral, Vienne, Coello, 2011).
Another form of helping a patient keep their symptoms controlled is through various medications. However, this is the last resort, you do not want to bring on an even bigger problem of addiction to medications as well as dealing with the symptoms of schizophrenia. Studies show that social workers are able to help those families that do not have the means to get the help they need due to money constraints as well as facilities near them (Guada, Venable, 2011). These studies also revealed that the social workers can look up information online to help the families do what they can to move forward with the diagnosis.
Studies using physiological measures of emotional response have also found that people with schizophrenia exhibit responses to evocative stimuli that are more similar than dissimilar to those of people without schizophrenia” (Kring, Germans Gard, Gard, 2011). This shows that patients that are diagnosed with schizophrenia are not that different from you or me when it comes to emotional experience. With everything that has come out in the last few years it is clear that scientist are coming closer everyday with finding a way to permanently control schizophrenia as well as look for a cure.
This may be years away but we must not give up hope, because those patients affected by schizophrenia deserve a chance to get better. Unlike other mental disorders, schizophrenia is one that seems to have the same symptoms within different cultures so it would help drastically if we could find a way for those struck with this devastating disease to get some answers. This disease can actually run someone’s life, and as I stated earlier it can get so bad that a patient must be institutionalized in order to survive without hurting themselves or someone else.
When the delusions take over it will cause someone to think they are being told to do something from within themselves and might cause them to act in an irrational manner (Hahn, Robinson, Harvey, Kaiser, Leonard, Lucks, Gold, 2011). The sooner the scientist around the world can come up with a cure the better these patients will be, but until then we should all be educated on how schizophrenia affects people as well as the signs we should look for when we suspect someone might be suffering from this disease.
If you see some of these symptoms in someone you know it would good to try to get them some help before it is too late. As stated earlier the symptoms of schizophrenia can be controlled and it might help someone that could be living with the disease and not even know it. Some people may feel that schizophrenia is associated with split or multiple personality, well this assumption is actually false, the word schizophrenia means “split mind” not split personality (Kring, Germans Gard, Gard, 2011).
It is important to know the difference between the two because even though the symptoms may be similar they are actually two very different disorders. Personality disorders are defined as having more than one personality which is completely different from being diagnosed with schizophrenia. As I stated earlier schizophrenia is characterized by major disturbances in perception, language, thought, emotion and behavior. This clearly shows the difference between the two disorders. To go a little more in-debt let’s look at the breakdown in these symptoms.
Perceptual disturbances which are false but strong beliefs in a fictitious manner, a good example of this would be when someone believes that they are being conspired against. Another definition of perceptual disturbances would be hallucinations which cause someone to hear, smell, feel, or see something that is just not there in reality (Kring, Germans Gard, Gard, 2011). Moving onto the language portion of these disturbances shows us that someone who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia tends to be unable to think clearly or concentrate ,this also affects their ability to connect thoughts logically.
A person with schizophrenia can experience sudden, inexplicable changes in mood, such as intense sadness, happiness, excitement, depression or anger that come on without reason or warning” (Purdon, Waldie, Woodward, Wilman, Tibbo, 2011). As you can see you could be talking to someone who has schizophrenia one minute and everything will be fine and the next minute they could be going off the deep end on a downward spiral of depression or anger. This is also associcated with someone with schizophrenia getting overly excited or happy about something that you or I would find to be minor.
Now this seems to be describing only the thought portion of the disturbances someone with schizophrenia might have but in all reality it is very much their behavior as well. If someone gets overly excited you will not only see a change in their thought process but also within their behavior. You might wonder, could I be a schizophrenic? This is a good question do you know where it comes from? The answers to these questions are still be researched, however, there have been some recent breakthroughs that show us a few possibilities on how someone can be diagnosed with schizophrenia.
One of the most recent studies show that researches are finding evidence that shows that it is a result of biological and psychosocial factors (Purdon, Waldie, Woodward, Wilman, Tibbo, 2011). This simply means that one of the causes of schizophrenia could be genetics as well as brain abnormalities. They have also linked some of the specific genes related to schizophrenia, meaning if you are linked genetically with someone who has schizophrenia you could be at risk of being diagnosed with the disease. It would behoove anyone who is questioning their genetic history dealing with schizophrenia to look deeper to see if they are at risk.
As stated earlier schizophrenia is world-wide and it is the most devastating of all the mental disorders. Even though the symptoms are widely spread there are some differences in various countries. For example, in Latin America women generally lead men in the diagnosis of the disease however, in the United States men are normally affected by the disease more. When women are diagnosed with the disease it seems to hit them fast, they begin to have hallucinations, and delusions whereas men can go for a much longer time without their symptoms becoming increasingly worse (Purdon, Waldie, Woodward, Wilman, Tibbo, 2011).
The average age for schizophrenia onset is 18 for men and 25 for women (Kring, Germans Gard, Gard, 2011), most of the time you will not be diagnosed with schizophrenia after the age of 45. This disease can take a loved one away from reality and cause them to become detached from the world. According to the diathesis –stress model “the onset of a certain disorder may result from a combination of one’s biological disposition towards the given disorder and stressful events that bring about the onset to such disorder” (Delevoye-Terral, Vienne, Coello, 2011).
Now, this doesn’t mean that just because you get a little stressed out about something as most people do at least once a week that you are at risk for schizophrenia. This model is just stating that if you have inherited the predisposition that you could be at greater risk. A study showed that patients who were sent home to a family that was hostile towards them had a much higher rate of a relapse episode than those who went home to families that comforted them and excepted them (Purdon, Waldie, Woodward, Wilman, Tibbo, 2011).
This is vital when trying to help someone who has to live with this disease, as stated earlier one may have an episode if stress is brought into their lives. It must be unbairable at times to all of the sudden be taken over by feelings of depression, anger, and delusions. The treatment or hospitalization is very expensive for a patient to be treated for any mental disorder so we should take every action possible to help them as much as we can. The facts are out there it is up to us to read them and become familiar for what to look for, you never know you could be living with schizophrenia and not know.
Without the help of our scientist and educators out there, we may have never really known what this disorder was or how it can be controlled. Our world is being affected by something we cannot cure and in some counties they do not have the means to even control the symptoms as we do. There are people every day being diagnosed with this disease and having to face it alone or in an institution. Families of those affected need to open their eyes and their arms to the disease and see how it really affects one’s body. You would be amazed as to how much a positive environment would help a patient that has been diagnosed.
As stated earlier families that turn their back on a loved one who has to live with this only makes it harder for them function normally. Our nation has come together with other countries to try to find a cure so that people will no longer suffer with this, so those of us that are not affected by the disease can also come together and be a support group for those who are. Until there is a cure for this devastating disease we need to focus on what it is available to help those who are in need.