If a person suspects that he / she or a loved one is suffering from schizophrenia, it is important to remember that the condition is treatable and seek the help of a professional as soon as possible.
Schizophrenia is a mental state characterized by a lack of meaningful and logical thought processes. People suffering from this often experience a "split" or break with reality, which causes them to hear and see things that do not exist for most other people.
The strange thoughts that plague the schizophrenic, and the extraordinary fears that he or she sometimes suffers from, can lead to their being perceived as "funny" or "abnormal" by society. If the condition is not properly managed and controlled, it can therefore lead to serious problems at a social and work level.
Schizophrenia causes major personal and financial problems worldwide. Those diagnosed with it have a shortened life expectancy. It ranges from 12 to 15 years. The suicide rate is also higher in people suffering from this. In addition, schizophrenia is the third leading cause of medical disability in the world. However, depending on the nature of the person's health care, his or her symptoms can be well controlled and he or she can lead a productive and full life.
Most people who suffer from this develop the symptoms in the earlier stages of their lives, and this is initially observed especially among teenagers. It is therefore most common in adults.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF Schizophrenia?
The following symptoms are indicative, based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5), which is accepted worldwide as the most authoritative source. Please note Please note that an official diagnosis may only be made by a qualified person.
- Two or more of the following, each of which occurs regularly for at least a month:
- Delusions ("strange" thoughts)
- Hallucinations (seeing, hearing or experiencing things that others do not experience)
- Disorganized speech (eg confused and nonsensical)
- Noticeably strange, disorganized behavior or sitting quietly in one place for a long time
- Emotional bluntness
- Dysfunctional social behavior or work-related behavior: Noticeable areas in the person's life that are negatively affected, e.g. work, personal relationships or self-care.
- Period: Persistent signs for at least 6 months.
- Exclusion: The symptoms should not be due to any other medical condition or substance use.
TREATMENT OF Schizophrenia
- Why is treatment needed for schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a form of a break with reality and has a profound impact on people's quality of life. Initially, psychiatric admission (hospitalization) and regular medication are essential in the treatment of schizophrenia.
- Who can diagnose me or a loved one?
Because schizophrenia is so complex, we would advise you to be tested and diagnosed only by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They are trained to distinguish between different disorders.
- What role does a psychologist play in my treatment?
A clinical psychologist can diagnose schizophrenia and treat psychotherapeutically. This means he or she can help you understand what your diagnosis is, how to live with it, and how to apply a strategy that can lead to behavioral change. A psychologist in South Africa may not prescribe medication and usually works with a psychiatrist in a team.
ADVICE FOR LOVERS AND FAMILY MEMBERS LIVING WITH SOMEONE OR WORKING WITH SOMEONE DIAGNOSED WITH PSYCHOSIS / SCHISOPHERENIA
If a loved one or friend is diagnosed with psychosis or schizophrenia, your support and motivation can play a very important role in accepting and managing the diagnosis. The following are guidelines for supporting an individual:
- Be patient. People who struggle with a concept of reality do not always have the ability to say how they feel or what they experience. Give them a chance to get used to the diagnosis first, and then gradually start taking concrete steps that the person can take to manage his or her daily life.
- Be informed by building up knowledge of psychosis and schizophrenia. The more you and your loved one, family member or colleague know about the disease, the more you can work together on ways to support the person in his or her management of the disease.
- Ask what your loved one needs from you. One can easily assume that you know what is best for another person, but the easiest is to ask how he or she wants you to act.
- Listen to the person. Do not give advice or try to reason with him or her logically. It is important for the person to take responsibility for the illness and the effect it will have on his or her life. When someone makes choices on behalf of someone else, it may cause the person to become dependent on the helper and then not want to fight the disease himself. It is not your illness, but your loved one's. Listening is a wonderful way to support someone with this condition.
- Get to know the signs and symptoms so you can act early. Everyone's symptoms do not manifest in the same way; therefore, it is important to know and understand in advance how this particular person's symptoms will manifest. For example, when your loved one experiences a sudden break with reality, you can take time to deal with it.
- Do physical activities with the individual. It is not a cliché that regular exercise helps people with psychological diagnoses. It relieves tension and anxiety, and aids in the production of low-mood nutrients. Regular exercise is therefore a successful anti-depressant.
- Encourage a healthy eating and sleeping pattern. An established routine not only helps the person manage their illness, but also helps to see signs / symptoms early.
- Take a good look at yourself! Remember, a person with diagnosed psychosis or schizophrenia in your life can also negatively impact you by involving you in their disorder. Living with a person who has been diagnosed with psychosis or schizophrenia can feel frustrating, exhausting and sometimes chaotic. Make time for yourself too.
There are many misconceptions about schizophrenia, as well as what the term “schizophrenia” actually means. Many of these misconceptions exist because schizophrenia is a complex disease to understand as well as to diagnose.