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THE FACE OF SCHIZOPHRENIA

"If you are walking on a path thick with brambles and rocks, a path that abruptly twists and turns, it's easy to get lost, or tired, or discouraged. You might be tempted to give up entirely. But if a kind and patient person comes along and takes your hand saying, 'I see you're having a hard time --- here, follow me, I'll help you find your way,' the path becomes manageable, the journey less frightening". – Elyn R. Saks, "The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness."


Imagine living a life that most consider normal. You have friends, attend school, and work. You are happy and living your best life possible. Then in your teens or early 20s, you start to experience some odd things. For example, you may think there is a conspiracy and experience life in a world of espionage. The situation feels authentic to you, but it is not. You start to experience hallucinations, express delusions, and feel paranoid. You begin to isolate yourself and do not even realize that something is amiss.


That is one example of someone struggling with an episode of Schizophrenia. It is challenging for society to accept this illness. Many people don't understand and, to be honest, do not want to understand. The person feels different from most of society and becomes the "strange man or woman next door."


I am sharing with you a few facts about Schizophrenia. I hope you find them helpful.


SYMPTOMS

· Delusions - About 90% of people with Schizophrenia express false or illogical beliefs.

· Hallucinations - Research shows that about 70% of people diagnosed with Schizophrenia experience hallucinations, which may be auditory, visual, or olfactory. Other people do not see, hear, or experience these sensations. For the individual, the hallucinations are very real and can be frightening. Auditory hallucinations are the most common and may be described as threatening voices or whispering. Visual hallucinations are objects, patterns, lights, or people that aren't there. Olfactory hallucinations are those involving tastes or smells, both good and bad.

· Bizarre or Disorganized Behavior - The individual may exhibit a lack of inhibition or impulse control. Responses may become irrational, unpredictable, or inappropriate. The individual often reaches the point where they cannot complete goal-oriented activities such as self-care and other routine practices.

· Speech Abnormalities – Some research indicates that linguistic disorganization may be central to Schizophrenia. Although many believe Schizophrenia originates in the ability to process relevant thought, speech abnormalities could also define core symptoms. A person with Schizophrenia breaks down language configuration differently than someone who does not have the illness. They are easily derailed in a conversation and unable to make a point. Those with Schizophrenia cannot structure a sentence grammatically, accurately, or logically. Research also suggests that people with Schizophrenia experience a decline in first-person ownership of self-generated thoughts. For example, instead of saying, "I am tired," the individual might say, "He is tired."

There are some other symptoms also,

· Disorganized Speech

· Altered State

· Cognitive Impairment


TREATMENT

A combination of treatments is best for individuals with Schizophrenia. Medication is the mainstay of treatment; however, decades of research have shown that psychosocial treatments are crucial in improving symptoms and quality of life.

· Team-based care also is pivotal. A treatment team may include a psychiatrist, a licensed therapist, and a case manager.

· Psychosocial Treatments for Schizophrenia - Because "mental illnesses" are compounded by a cascade of personal losses — including friendships, work opportunities, and a place to call home — effective treatment requires addressing the needs of the whole person and listening to their hopes and dreams,"

  • Cognitive Remediation/Related Treatments. While hallucinations and delusions can be devastating, cognitive decline — problems with memory, attention, problem-solving, and processing information — complicates daily life. Because medication doesn't treat problems with attention, concentration, and memory, treatments that address these issues are vital.

  • Individual psychotherapy.

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

As mentioned above, many people in society fear someone diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Once a person with Schizophrenia has an episode, people walk away from them. The individual feels separate from others in this world.


HOW CAN I HELP?

· Educate yourself.

· Listen.

· Use empathy, not arguments.

· Don't take it personally.

· Take care of yourself, too

· Maintain your social network.

· Encourage your loved one to keep up with their treatment and recovery plan.

· Take action if you think your or your loved one is in danger.


Please take time and learn more about mental illness. I have shared that I have bipolar disorder. I also have worked in a psychiatric facility for 12 years. I believe that living with a mental illness and working with people that severally struggle with their mental illness gives me the insight to share with others. I would like to use more avenues to get the word out about mental illness. If you have any ideas on how I can share, I would love to hear them. I am an experienced speaker, love to write (I have one published book on mental illness) and enjoy talking to people one-on-one if anyone needs to talk about their experience or has questions.


Have a great week!


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