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Understanding Your Schizophrenia Diagnosis

Understanding Schizophrenia

It’s challenging to accept a schizophrenia diagnosis—or the diagnosis of any stigmatized disorder. But, contrary to what the media portrays, schizophrenia can be successfully managed with treatments that enable a person to enjoy a full life and loving relationships. Before diving into the basics of schizophrenia, let’s dispel common myths about the illness that might hinder people from seeking treatment

Common Myths About Schizophrenia 

The first and most dangerous myth is that schizophrenia can’t be effectively treated to allow you to live your life fully. Schizophrenia is treatable with therapy, medication, and a healthy lifestyle. 

Secondly, it’s crucial that the friends and family of our schizophrenic patients understand that no one factor, person, event, or action causes schizophrenia. The presence of several combined factors such as genetics, trauma, drug use, and other environmental factors are linked to schizophrenia—but the exact causes are unknown. Here are the other top myths about the disorder:

  • Being diagnosed with schizophrenia means you also have dissociative identity disorder (DID)
  • If your parents or grandparents have schizophrenia, you’re doomed to develop it
  • Your primary caregivers triggered your schizophrenia through bad parenting and abuse
  • A psychotic episode you experienced triggered your schizophrenia
  • People with schizophrenia are violent, difficult, aggressive, or scary and must be institutionalized or live full-time in assisted living centers
  • People with schizophrenia are lazy, impaired people who can’t hold jobs or advance in a career

All of these beliefs are untrue and ungrounded in scientific evidence. Try to disregard them when learning about your own or a loved one’s diagnosis.

What is Schizophrenia, Exactly?

Officially categorized in 1887, schizophrenia and its symptoms have been documented throughout history as far back as 1550 BC. Simply put: schizophrenia causes abnormal interpretations of reality. It’s a mental illness that affects cognition, behavior, and emotional regulation. Currently, schizophrenia is incurable, but there are many recorded cases of schizophrenia in remission—where no symptoms are present for an indefinite time. 

Schizophrenia is a disease that involves positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms manifest as an excess of normal brain tendencies, such as delusions or disorganization. Negative symptoms refer to an absence of normal behaviors in the areas of motivation and emotional expression. 

Other points of interest to note are that people over the age of 30 are highly unlikely to develop the illness if not previously diagnosed. Additionally, men seem to develop the disease sooner than women.  

What Schizophrenia Symptoms Can I Expect To Develop?

Both positive and negative symptoms may be ever-present or only pop up occasionally for concentrated periods. Positive symptoms can include single symptoms or a mixture of any of the following:

  • Delusions (false beliefs that have no basis in reality), such as believing that someone is stalking you or that some impending tragedy looms. Most people with schizophrenia suffer from delusions. 
  • Hallucinations (detecting things that don’t exist) that feel real and indistinguishable from reality. Many people with schizophrenia hear voices, for example. 
  • Verbal and motor disorganization that causes incoherent speech or responses and excessive or bizarre movements and postures.

Negative symptoms appear as poor hygiene, monotone or expressionless interactions, and a decline in eye contact or typical touch and affection patterns like hugging, kissing, or sexual contact. Negative symptoms may culminate to present as depression or insomnia. Additionally, one indirect symptom of schizophrenia is suicidal ideation or behaviors. 

What Do Treatment Options Look Like?

While treatment plans should be customized to the individual, most people rely on a combination of antipsychotic medication and psychotherapy to manage symptoms. Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are two of the most popular forms of therapy that work well for people with schizophrenia. These treatment approaches are much more effective when the person is not using drugs and alcohol. Additionally, staying physically fit, well nourished, and well rested can make a huge difference in whether or not your treatment plan is successful long term. 

Get Treatment For Schizophrenia in Wisconsin with Miramont Behavioral Health

Miramont Behavioral Health provides a wide array of treatment programs and resources for people with schizophrenia and their families, and we’re dedicated to providing you with tailored treatment with our fully developed acute care, day treatment, and family services.  

We’re also fully equipped to treat those who have a dual diagnosis of schizophrenia and substance use disorder. Contact us today to learn more!

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