Schizophrenia is a mental illness that has many stereotypes associated with it. Learn more about the real facts behind these 7 common schizophrenia myths.
Schizophrenia is considered to be the most disabling and chronic of all the major mental illnesses. A form of psychosis, schizophrenia affects the way you think, perceive reality, and express emotions, as well as how you relate to others. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, approximately 1.1 percent of adults in America live with schizophrenia. In other words, more than 2 million people living in the United States are suffering from schizophrenia today. Although this lifelong disease does not have a cure, proper treatment can still help control it.
Schizophrenia is very well known all over the world, however, there are only a limited few who truly understand it. It is important to note that this mental disorder is not a multiple personality disorder. Rather, it is a form of psychosis in which you lose touch with reality, and you cannot differentiate between reality and imagination. If you are suffering from schizophrenia, others may perceive your behavior to be strange and in some cases, even shocking.
The sudden change in your behavior and personality when you lose touch with reality is termed as a psychotic episode. The severity of this disorder differs from person to person. Some may experience only one psychotic episode in their lifetime, while others may have several episodes. Some of the symptoms associated with this disorder include hallucinations, delusions, catatonia, lack of motivation, reduced energy, poor functioning, and trouble focusing. These symptoms tend to be very sudden and severe when this disorder first appears.
Unfortunately, there is no specific test that can be used to diagnose schizophrenia. The doctors diagnose this disorder by ruling out any other physical disorders that can cause the schizophrenia-like symptoms. Your doctor may then refer you to a psychiatrist or a mental health professional who is trained to diagnose such mental disorders and treat them.
Psychologists and psychiatrists have some assessment tools and specially designed interviews that help them diagnose an individual with a psychotic disorder.
The main aim of the treatment methods of schizophrenia is to control the symptoms and to reduce the chances of a relapse. Some of the treatment options include antipsychotic medications, family therapy, group therapy, and electroconvulsive therapy or ECT. It is possible for most people with this disorder to lead fulfilling and productive lives when they undergo proper treatment.
Since there is no accurate understanding of schizophrenia among the general population, there are a number of myths about this disorder. Even the media contributes towards these myths with its stereotypical portrayal of schizophrenia. Here is the real story behind the seven most common myths associated with this mental illness.
Popular culture depicts people suffering from schizophrenia as unpredictable, violent, and out of control. It is true that some patients with schizophrenia do engage in criminal activities, however, the vast majority of patients are not violent.
This myth stems from the assumption that the symptoms of schizophrenia remain the same from person to person. Irene Levine, a psychologist and the author of ‘Schizophrenia for Dummies’ says that, “People with schizophrenia more often tend to be victims rather than the perpetrators of violence, although untreated mental illness and substance abuse often increases the risk of aggressive behavior”. A professor at the Department of Psychiatry, UT Health Science Center in San Antonio, Dawn Velligan, says, “When their illness is treated with medication and psychosocial intervention, individuals with schizophrenia are no more violent than the general population”.
This is perhaps one of the most pervasive myths about this mental disorder, and it is regularly perpetuated in the media. The literal translation of the word ‘schizophrenia’ means ‘split mind’ which just adds to the confusion. But this is not true at all.
People with schizophrenia experience several hallucinations and delusions when they lose their touch with reality. However, they do not have two separate personalities. In fact, multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia are two different and distinct mental disorders.
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