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The truth about schizophrenia; splitting fact from fiction

Symptoms+of+schizophrenia+can+put+a+lot+of+stress+on+someone%27s+life.+This+can+make+it+harder+for++someone+to+uphold+a+healthy+lifestyle%2C+but+proper+medication+can+help.
Symptoms of schizophrenia can put a lot of stress on someone's life. This can make it harder for  someone to uphold a healthy lifestyle, but proper medication can help.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can put a lot of stress on someone's life. This can make it harder for someone to uphold a healthy lifestyle, but proper medication can help.

Photo By Kat Smith

Photo By Kat Smith

Symptoms of schizophrenia can put a lot of stress on someone's life. This can make it harder for someone to uphold a healthy lifestyle, but proper medication can help.

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About 1% of the American population is affected by schizophrenia, a disease meaning ‘split mind.’ schizophrenia is seen mostly in men, with symptoms first appearing in their mid- 20’s, and late 20’s for females. Scientists and teachers have studied schizophrenia for many years and have done their best to share knowledge of this disorder with others. Recent research, though, has proven that not all of the story has been understood properly. Many people are still unsure about the true nature of schizophrenia and make false assumptions as a result. These assumptions, or myths, can make people with schizophrenia seem strange, scary, or even dangerous, even though that just isn’t the case. Because of this, people with schizophrenia are very reluctant to tell people about their disorder for fear of being seen as different or dangerous.

Mayoclinic.org describes symptoms of schizophrenia as including visual and audial hallucinations as well as disorganized thinking and behaviors. Symptoms can also include delusions, which are thoughts and/or feelings that someone is watching you or even out to harm you. All or almost all of these symptoms are commonly experienced by people diagnosed with schizophrenia. As well as symptoms, scientists have identified multiple causing factors for schizophrenia in order to apply treatment before the disease can develop. These causing factors include a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment which contributes to the development of the disorder. These causing factors are similar to those of bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and many other mental illnesses. Hopefully, new information shared with the help of Mayoclinic.org, The National Alliance on Mental Illness, livingwithschizophreniauk.org, as well as our own school Psychologist, Jane Russell, will change people’s negative viewpoints towards people with schizophrenia.

Myth 1: People with schizophrenia are dangerous and unpredictable

Many people, according to a poll, believe that the myth of danger and unpredictability is attached to schizophrenia. Jane Russel, the Patterson Mill School Psychologist, says that, “I think that can be true if unmedicated. Their perceptions are inaccurate at times, so they may perceive danger themselves when there is none.” While this is very true, people with schizophrenia who have correct medication do not need to be feared. Medication is designed to relieve the severity of symptoms experienced and, therefore, someone experiencing symptoms will be less likely to act harmfully or unpredictably.

Myth 2:People with schizophrenia believe in the existence of mythical creatures

Although people experiencing delusions and hallucinations see/ hear/ believe in things that do not exist, mythical creatures isn’t the correct term to be used. Delusions experienced by people with schizophrenia are in no way affected by their belief in ‘mythical creatures,’ but rather believe that people and other real things are after them. In the end, people with schizophrenia aren’t any more likely to believe in the Loch Ness Monster than anyone else and believing in Bigfoot really has no negative impact on one’s mental health.

Myth 3: Schizophrenia is a rare disease

Schizophrenia, although very serious, is in no sense a rare disease. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that about 1 in 100 adults in the United States is affected by schizophrenia. This percentage represents about 3 million people nationwide.

Myth 4: People with schizophrenia belong in an asylum

As stated above, schizophrenia has a bad reputation for being dangerous and unpredictable, and this myth expands on that idea. An asylum, or psychiatric hospital, is an institution offering shelter and support to people who are mentally ill. Although people with schizophrenia may be admitted to one of these hospitals, it is usually unnecessary. With proper medication and counseling, people with schizophrenia are no danger to anyone and are in no need of admission to an asylum.

Myth 5: People with schizophrenia can’t hold a career

It is true that some employers may not understand the true nature of schizophrenia and may deny someone employment because of their mental health, saying they are mentally incompetent. This is wrong and should not be the case. Mrs. Russel states, “With medication and treatment, they may be able to live a normal life.” Despite this, according to livingwithschizophreniauk.org, only about 13% of people with the diagnosis are able to uphold any kind of work. Those that do work though, receive many benefits for doing so. Work provides opportunity for social interaction, making it easier to meet new people and make friends. Work also improves self-esteem. Everyone needs to feel good about themselves and having a high self-esteem has been shown to reduce the frequency of relapses in schizophrenia.

Myth 6: Schizophrenia is the parent’s fault

Schizophrenia is nobody’s fault. Genes and traumatic experiences connected to parenting may be listed as causing factors of schizophrenia, it all really boils down to the brain itself and how it reacts to those factors and situations. It is not the parent’s fault, nor is it the fault of the person with the disorder. Again, it is up to the brain to decide how it reacts to any sort of genes or events throughout life and those choices are completely out of the hands of the person, or their parents.

Myth 7 : All people with schizophrenia have Dissociative Identity Disorder (multiple personalities)

This is one of, if not the most common misconception about schizophrenia. The opening paragraph of this article states that schizophrenia literally means split mind, but what does that mean? Many people believe it to mean a split of the person’s life, a split between emotions, resulting in multiple personalities. This is not at all true. The term split mind is a split between fantasy and reality. Someone with untreated schizophrenia has delusions and hallucinations, believing things are happening that really aren’t. This uncertainty about what is real is where the split mind term is used. This is in no way connected to being half awake and half asleep, as people experience all the time, unsure if one is dreaming or awake. It is a constant feeling, a fear of uncertainty that things aren’t right, that people are always watching. Someone may have both schizophrenia and multiple personalities, but the two illnesses are not related.

Hopefully, awareness of the true nature of schizophrenia can be spread to more people, so people with schizophrenia will no longer feel the need to ‘hide’ their disorder. The more people know, the more accepting the world will be in almost any situation and bringing people together despite mental or physical differences.

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The truth about schizophrenia; splitting fact from fiction