What is Schizophrenia and How is it Treated?
Few mental illnesses are as feared, misunderstood, or stigmatized as schizophrenia. A serious brain disorder that makes it hard to distinguish the real from the imaginary, schizophrenia often causes psychotic episodes in which people completely lose touch with reality. Careers suffer, relationships crumble. Helplessness takes hold.
Many people mistakenly believe that schizophrenia can’t be treated, and that those who suffer with it are condemned to lead unfulfilling lives. The truth is, with proper diagnosis and support, schizophrenia is a highly manageable condition. Early intervention is key to a successful recovery. And the first step toward getting better is knowing what to look out for.
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Identifying symptoms of schizophrenia
The first signs of schizophrenia usually appear during adolescence or early adulthood. Sometimes they show up suddenly, during a severe psychotic episode, but they can also develop gradually over time.
While no two cases of schizophrenia will necessarily look the same, it’s important to take note of some of the major warning signs:
- Hallucinations. A common symptom of schizophrenia is “hearing voices” that give commands or hurl insults, but it’s also possible to experience other sensations, such as smelling nonexistent odors or feeling skin crawl.
- Delusions. Nonsensical thoughts or false beliefs can pervade the brain of a person with schizophrenia, causing them to disconnect from reality and isolate themselves.
- Catatonia. During a psychotic episode, sufferers may slip into an unresponsive, immobile state, much like a coma.
Additional symptoms may occur, such as:
- Lack of emotion
- Difficulty focusing
- Poor self-regulation
- Extreme disorganization
Obtaining a diagnosis
Early diagnosis of schizophrenia increases the chances of a successful recovery. If you suspect you or a loved one may have schizophrenia, the most important thing to do is to seek immediate care from an experienced medical professional who can determine the origin of your symptoms.
Doctors may begin by conducting blood tests or brain scans to rule out physical illness, followed by a series of diagnostic interviews and assessments to evaluate symptoms. In general, a person must experience symptoms for at least six months to be identified as schizophrenic.
There’s no cure for schizophrenia, but consistent, long-term treatment is available to reduce – and in some cases, eliminate – the symptoms. Treatment varies on a case-by-case basis, but it usually includes one or more of the following:
- Anti-psychotic medications. Medications are available in many different forms, including pills, liquids, and injectables. It can take some time to identify the best medication and dosage, as well as to properly manage side effects.
- Psychotherapy. Once stabilization is achieved through medication, talk therapy is crucial in helping patients understand their diagnosis, manage their symptoms, and develop coping strategies for the future.
- Social support. Adjusting to life with schizophrenia can be a challenge. Support structures such as job placement, housing assistance, and training for communication and social skills can go a long way toward an active, healthy recovery.
Affinity can help
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Affinity Treatment Centers can help. Our residential care facilities offer medical, therapeutic, and social services, all in a comfortable, structured setting. We provide personalized treatment plans to customize your road to recovery in a stable and nurturing environment, and offer both short and long term residencies based on your individual needs.
You can recover from schizophrenia. Affinity Treatment Centers can show you how. Call us today at (760) 917-1112, and begin living a healthy, productive, joyful life.