In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in May, I’ll be breaking down the basics of mental illnesses you said you wanted to read more about.
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Schizophrenia is a chronic condition that affects the way people think, feel and behave, causing them to seem out of touch with reality. It is one of the least understood and most stigmatized mental illnesses.
Schizophrenia is characterized by…
The disorder is a point on a spectrum called schizophrenia spectrum disorders, which includes other psychotic disorders such as schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, schizophreniform disorder, schizotypal personality disorder and brief psychotic disorder.
Schizophrenia affects about 2.4 million Americans (1 percent of the population), according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness. It can affect anyone of any age, but it usually appears for men in the their early to mid-20s and for women in the late 20s to early 30s.
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People who are affected by schizophrenia often experience a break from reality and what are generally considered psychotic symptoms that hinder their ability to function. Schizophrenia is a syndrome, which means there are many symptoms and different patients can experience different symptoms. But those symptoms can be broken into three general categories:
Symptoms can be gradual or sudden and could be triggered or worsened by stress or trauma. No event can cause schizophrenia, but research suggests that possible causes include: genetics, environment, brain chemistry, substance abuse.
While there is a 1 in 100 chance of developing schizophrenia, those odds increase to 1 in 10 if a parent or sibling has schizophrenia, and there’s a 50 percent chance of developing it if that sibling is an identical twin.
Right now, a cure does not exist, but schizophrenia is treatable.
Some treatments include antipsychotic medications, which focus on eliminating symptoms, such as hallucinations, and psychosocial methods, which helps people re-establish social stability with the help of a counselor or therapist.
Scientists are also working on understanding more of the causes and effects of schizophrenia so they can create better tools and intervention techniques, which is important because research suggests that a person’s brain endures more damage with each psychotic episode.