The symptoms of Schizophrenia can be severe, chronic and debilitating that, in turn, often result in impaired daily functioning. This begs the question on many people’s mind: What is schizophrenia?
Symptoms to Look Out For
Schizophrenia is a mental health condition characterized by a wide range of issues in cognitive function, behaviors, and emotions. While each affected individual experiences the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia in terms of frequency, intensity and duration, these usually include:
- Delusions are the false beliefs without basis in reality. These can include the belief in one’s fame and fortune, or in one’s exceptional ability, or in one being a target of a death squad.
- Hallucinations that involve seeing and/or hearing things aren’t actually present or are non-existent. But for schizophrenics, these are experienced as if the things, people or events are actually occurring.
- Disorganized thinking that manifests itself in disorganized speech. Schizophrenics may provide answers partially or completely unrelated to the question or may put together unrelated or unintelligible words (i.e., word salad).
- Little to no ability for normal functioning. Schizophrenia are prone to neglecting their personal hygiene, appearing to be emotionless, and/or showing little to no interest in social situations.
These symptoms can also vary over time such that a schizophrenic can experience a remission of symptoms for a few months and then a worsening afterward. The unpredictability of the onset of symptoms aggravates the condition for most schizophrenics.
Seeking Medical Help Is a Must
Sadly, schizophrenics often have little to no awareness of their challenges in life because of their symptoms and, thus, are less likely to seek medical attention. The responsibility then falls on the shoulders of their family and/or friends to seek appropriate medical attention on their behalf. This may include inpatient psychiatric services.
Schizophrenia also has complications that will have adverse impact on every aspect of life. These complications can include suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, and suicide; self-harming episodes; abuse of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; social isolation with feelings of being victimized; and inability to engage in everyday life.
If you suspect your family or friend of being a schizophrenia based on your initial observations of his symptoms, you should be forthright yet gentle in talking to them about your concerns. You may accompany him to a psychiatrist, provide compassion and support, and even provide for his basic needs.
There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for schizophrenics although the condition itself requires lifelong treatment. The symptoms can be managed with a combination of:
- Medications particularly antipsychotics
- Psychosocial interventions like social skills training, individual and family therapy, and vocational rehabilitation combined with supported employment
- Hospitalization in crisis situations
Many schizophrenics also live a relatively productive and contented life despite their condition by adapting to it. Their coping strategies include joining a support group, adopting stress management and relaxation techniques, and staying focused on their goals and treatment.