People are generally afraid of the idea of schizophrenia and there are a lot of misconceptions. There are over two million Americans with this mental illness and a number of medications to help treat it. It often can appear in the late teens or twenties for individuals and is very difficult for the whole family as well as the individual that suffers from it.
There is a beautiful video by Jill Taylor who discusses her own stroke as well as her interest in becoming a brain researcher in order to understand schizophrenia due to her brother’s diagnosis with this illness. She is an innovator in understanding the way the brain and mind function.
Symptoms can include confusion, delusions and hallucinations. There can be isolating tendencies and withdrawal habits from others.Depression and anxiety may be quite high and it is easy to get overhelmed. Cognitive problems can manifest in the areas of decision making, attention and the capacity to learn. Delusions can be chronic and one may think that an electronic gadget is communicating with them through waves or that they are constantly being watched by someone. It is painful to see someone shaping their behavior based on delusions that dominate the mind. Some people with medication are able to lessen these disturbing thoughts and not believe them to the degree that they had in the past.
Sometimes people with this diagnosis can show little affect and have a type of flat tone with little excitement. Dr. Laing worked with schizophrenics in the UK and had a radical approach with this population. He saw many aspects of our society and environment as insane and that believed it could be worked with as a journey into the inner self. His views were seen as controversial but many in the seventies appreciated his spiritual and existential approach to this problem. He saw the patient is resorting to this behavior as a coping mechanism and that it grew from an inner despair.
Most people with schizoprhenia are not able to work and many qualify for disability in the United States. The intrusion of audio or visual hallucinations, problematical thought patterns and mood liability makes daily functioning a challenge and work responsibilities can often be impossible to sustain with any regularity. There have been many advances in medications and counseling is often used to help identify underlying triggers. Family support is important and there may also be hospitalizations required when symptoms are intense or there is lack of medication compliance.
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