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Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder characterized by distorted thinking, abnormal behavior, and disrupted emotions. It affects both men and women equally and usually appears in late adolescence or early adulthood. Though there is no cure for schizophrenia, it is treatable and people can live full lives with the disorder. Let’s learn more about what schizophrenia is and how to support those living with this disorder. 

What Causes Schizophrenia? 

Although the exact cause of schizophrenia isn’t known, current research suggests that it’s likely due to a combination of biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Biological factors may include genetics; if someone has family members with schizophrenia, they are more likely to develop it themselves than those without a family history. Environmental factors like stressful life events or trauma can also play a role in triggering the onset of schizophrenia. Finally, psychological factors such as having certain personality characteristics may increase one’s risk for developing schizophrenia.

What are the Symptoms? 

The symptoms of schizophrenia can be divided into two categories- positive symptoms and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions (false beliefs), hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t there), disorganized speech (difficulty expressing oneself), disorganized behavior (unusual behavior that disrupts daily activities) as well as other cognitive difficulties such as difficulty concentrating or paying attention. Negative symptoms include lack of motivation, social withdrawal, poor hygiene habits, lack of emotion (flat affect) as well as problems with memory or concentration. It’s important to note that not everyone experiences all these symptoms; they vary from person to person depending on the severity of their condition. 

How Do You Treat Schizophrenia? 

There isn’t a single treatment plan for schizophrenia since each individual’s experience varies greatly depending on their personal factors such as age, gender, lifestyle choices etc., but many treatment plans will involve medication, psychotherapy, lifestyle changes such as diet modification or exercise regimens and possibly hospitalization if needed in order to help manage the disorder. Medication helps reduce psychotic symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations while psychotherapy can help someone better understand their condition and how it affects them so that they can find ways to cope with their illness in a healthy way. Additionally, lifestyle changes can also be beneficial for helping someone manage their condition; for example regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels which may help improve overall functioning in those living with schizophrenia. 

Medication 

Most people diagnosed with schizophrenia receive medication as part of their treatment plan. Antipsychotic medications are typically prescribed to reduce psychotic symptoms such as delusions and hallucinations. These drugs can also improve concentration and motivation. It’s important to note that it may take time for the medications to be effective; it may take several weeks or even months before symptom improvement is seen. Additionally, side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness may occur during the first few weeks of taking medication; these should go away over time once your body adjusts to the medication. 

Psychosocial Therapy 

In addition to medication, psychosocial therapies can be incredibly beneficial for people living with schizophrenia. Psychosocial therapy helps individuals cope with their illness on an emotional level by teaching them healthy coping mechanisms such as problem-solving skills and stress management techniques. This type of therapy also encourages patients to take an active role in managing their own health care as well as setting realistic goals for themselves. This type of support has been shown to help reduce hospitalizations and increase quality of life for many individuals living with schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a complex mental health condition that affects millions worldwide, but there are treatments available that can help improve quality of life for those affected by it. While there is no cure for this disorder yet, those diagnosed have the opportunity to create an individualized treatment plan that works best for them so they can live full lives despite their diagnosis. With proper support from family members, caretakers, friends, medical professionals, and other resources, people living with schizophrenia have every chance at success.

By Erica Buteau

Change Agent. Daydream Believer. Maker. Creative. Likes love, peace and Jeeping. Dislikes winter, paper cuts and war. She/Her/Hers.

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