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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia Disorder – General Information

Schizophrenia Disorder – General Information

Schizophrenia is a chronic degenerative brain disorder that affects an individual’s ability to function in the ideal self-sufficient manner. Initially manifested as a subtle behavioral deviation, schizophrenia symptoms, if left untreated, can escalate into severe deterioration of a person’s cognitive, emotional, and physical performance. Research about the disorder addresses the infamous nature vs nurture debate, explores the spectrum of symptoms, and tries to determine the exact boundaries of a disease that has impacted our society for hundreds of years.

Prevalence of Schizophrenia Disorder

Schizophrenia is an equal opportunity disorder, at least regarding sex and ethnicity. Although males may exhibit symptoms earlier on than females, both sexes are equally likely to be diagnosed with the disorder. Somewhat rare, schizophrenia affects about 0.2% to 1.5% of the population, however studies into the disorder reveal strong correlations between the amount of genes shared with an individual and the corresponding likelihood of developing the disorder. For example,  if we look at the amount of genes shared amongst relatives, going in descending order, we see that monozygotic twins (who share 100% of their genes) have the highest probability (about 48%). We then start to see a decrease with fraternal twins (who share 50% of their genes) and have a 17% risk and finally look at individuals with any other relative who has been diagnosed with the disorder, and see that these individuals have about a 1% risk. It is also important to note that having a relative with the disorder is the primary predicting factor of risk associated with developing schizophrenia. After identifying a family history of the disorder, we then look at the severity of symptoms and the amount of genes shared between the individual at risk and the family member diagnosed, to determine a more accurate statement of probability. It is also important to note that while genetics play a large role in predicting probability of developing the disorder, they cannot predict what symptoms are likely to manifest, as studies reveal that even monozygotic twins can have very different forms of schizophrenia. It is more accurate to state that a family history of schizophrenia can be a reliable predictor of a psychotic disorder with schizophrenia-specific symptoms. Schizophrenia is still a very hot research area, and many questions remain about its heritability, symptoms, causes, and treatment.

Causes of Schizophrenia Disorder

Mental disorders, especially those with strong biological evidence of causation, are always highly studied areas in the realm of psychology and psychiatry. In order to discover the cause of such disorders and find indications toward appropriate treatment, we look at physiological, genetic, and social factors. Any questions into genetic influence immediately lead us into a web of complexity, especially regarding such dynamic disorders like schizophrenia and autism. Schizophrenia is a fascinating disorder, still provoking an abundance of questions, despite  the mounds of literature accumulated on the topic. It seems that although research points to strong genetic influence, schizophrenia is still classified as a psychotic disorder, and as such, its expression is dependent on both a genetic pre-disposition coupled with an environmental trigger. In psychology, when an individual’s biological disposition meets his or her personal environment, certain conditions may arise and disorders of ambiguous cause are formed, therefore reviving the age old question: Is it nature, or is it nurture?

Monozygotic twin, fraternal twin, and adoption studies have been performed in order to give researchers a better understanding of the level of influence genetics and environment have on individuals who are diagnosed with schizophrenia. These studies look at equal environment and gene sharing situations, as in the case of monozygotic twins; Equal environment and partly shared gene situations , as in the case of fraternal twin studies, and equal-gene and different environment sharing situations, as in the case of adoption studies.

The importance of these studies is that they indicate that schizophrenia is largely genetic. Even in cases in which children with a pre-disposition for the disorder are adopted, they are still likely to develop the disorder, especially if someone in their biological family expressed active symptoms. The risk of such pre-disposed individuals increases according to how many genes they share with their biological relative and how severe that person’s symptoms were. It is important to note however, that unstable environments or different physical or social experiences can cause an early expression of the disorder.

Other theories exist thanks to research into anti-psychotic medications used to treat some symptoms of schizophrenia. Neuroleptics are often used to treat positive symptoms of schizophrenia and they work by blocking dopamine receptor sites. Therefore, one theory about the cause of schizophrenia focuses on neurobiological influences, specifically the excess of the neurotransmitter dopamine. It is speculated that individuals who suffer from schizophrenia have high levels of active dopamine. This can be tied to genetics by theorizing that the coding of dopamine production is passed on through genes.

Another theory about the cause of schizophrenia looks at the neurological composition and function of individuals suffering from schizophrenia and those at high risk of developing the disorder. Research about the brain structure of these individuals reveals slight neurological abnormalities, especially evident in attention, reaction-time, and reflex studies.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia Disorder

As we’ve touched on vaguely, the symptoms of schizophrenia compromise a wide spectrum of cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and to a lesser extent, physical symptoms. Schizophrenia is mainly divided into two categories of symptoms: Positive and Negative.

Positive: The range of symptoms classified as ‘positive’ are the most visibly noticeable, dysfunctional symptoms. The expression of these types of symptoms are what usually  precede a diagnosis. Additionally, a schizophrenic with mostly positive symptoms may be diagnosed with a more severe type of schizophrenia. However, positive symptoms are mostly treatable with antipsychotic medications which have been shown to reduce the amount of hallucinations, delusions, and ‘magical thinking‘ symptoms.

Negative: The range of symptoms classified as ‘negative’ are often missed or misdiagnosed as they are expressed in behaviors that resemble depression such as social isolation, flat affect, decreased motivation, and inability to express emotion. Negative symptoms of schizophrenia may be treated to some extent with anti-depressants, but these types of symptoms are trickier to treat than positive symptoms.

Treatment of Schizophrenia Disorder

Since schizophrenia is a tremendously complex disorder, having both biological and environmental roots, it is necessary that the treatment of the disorder reflect this complexity. Since the early days, schizophrenia has been treated to some degree in both a biological and psychosocial manner. Although removing parts of the victim’s brain and using electroconvulsive therapy have both been used as biological treatments of the condition, some (however, very few) physicians recognized the need to treat the patient with care and patience, even during medieval times. Today, we recognize that schizophrenia can be treated both biologically and socially, which is why we try to treat the symptoms according to classification. For example, individuals suffering from mainly positive symptoms will most likely be treated through psychopharmacology which combines antipsychotic medications with anti-depressants. This approach seeks to treat the entire spectrum of the disorder by using a different medication for each class of symptom. Other treatments seek to educate family and community about the implications of schizophrenia and seeks to provide the suffering individuals with support and compassion.

Click Your State to View the Surrounding Schizophrenia Treatment Centers

To view the the schizophrenia treatment centers in your local area, please click the state in which you live on the map above or find your state in the alphabetized links above. Each respective page will lists the name, address, and contact number for each individual treatment center. You may also visit the top level page of the directory by clicking here and navigate further from there.
Read the description and visit the personal webpage of each treatment center to find out more information. You can contact them from there, but we understand that this is a tedious and intimidating process, so we've provided a form you can fill out with the requested information and we'll set you up with the most appropriate treatment center for your needs.
If you require further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at Schiz Life. We are here to serve the needs of the schizophrenia community and are happy to do so!

Schiz Life - Living With Schizophrenia

living with schizophrenia
For many of us, living with schizophrenia is our reality. And instead of struggling with the wish of how things “could be,” we finally come to an acceptance of our predicament and ultimately we embrace the fact of our lives: We are people dealing with schizophrenia. So then the question becomes not “Why” we suffer from this illness, but “How” we will cope and continue to enjoy our lives. We certainly will not give up! We have every right to demand the niceties, freedoms, and enjoyments of life to which all living creatures are entitled. This is what Schiz Life is all about.

Mission Statement Concerning Schizophrenia Information and Culture

Schiz Life serves to…

  • • Provide a safe haven for persons who wish to converse, cope, and share their experiences with schizophrenia in a positive manner in an attempt to celebrate the beauty of life, especially concerning our unique perspective on existence.
  • • Provide the highest quality of information concerning our psychological difficulties, including a frame of reference on the symptoms, treatment, history, and the future of schizophrenia.
  • • Take corrective action to dispel the myths and stigma surrounding schizophrenia, such as false ideas surrounding the cause, associations with violence, and others, all being perpetuated by the media by providing truth through scientific research and statistics.

Schiz Life intends to achieve this goal in the following manner:

The Schiz Life Schizophrenia Action Plan

  1. 1. We will continue to take advantage of internet outreach, contacting news agencies and other medical bloggers in hopes that they will join us in raising awareness of schizophrenia.
  2. 2. We will continue to promote this website through video and media outlets, including the dissemination of informational videos and graphics such as the first official schizophrenia infographic.
  3. 3. We will all contribute where possible off-line, including at health expo’s, psychology conferences, and any other relevant opportunity to spread the good word.

Thank You for Your Part in the Schizophrenia Journey!

We all thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for playing your role in the developing journey surrounding schizophrenia awareness and research. With all of our combined efforts, we will change the way the world perceives this illness and we will advance the medical efforts of professionals in their search for a cure and effective medicines. Thank you again!

Do Your Part!

Do you know of a great schizophrenia resource out there? Let us know! Do you see a person in need inside the comments of this site? Lend them some advice or encouragement! Are you a graphic designer or artist? Show us your work and I'm sure we can find some way to include your skills here on the site. Are you a writer who would like to contribute to the site? Shoot us an email and we'll discuss it. This site is for all of us and excludes none of us. Contact us for any reason and get involved!

Who Else is Helping?

Our content has been linked to or distributed by...

Mental Health TalkHealthy DebateTechnorati
Wellness WordworksVisuallyexaminer

...and also the sites listed below and more!

Try This Quick Schizophrenia Mini-Quiz:

This is but a quick quiz to test your general knowledge of schizophrenia. If you would like to take the extended and in-depth quiz, venture over to our Schizophrenia Quiz page and see just how much you know! Try the Schizophrenia Test to gauge your symptom levels.

Schizophrenia Quiz Directions: Please select the correct answer for each question and then press the button below to grade your quiz.

1. What is the term for perceiving stimuli that doesn't exist?




2. Which is NOT a type of schizophrenia?




3. Which of the following is a symptom of schizophrenia?




4. How common is schizophrenia in the general population?




5. Who can diagnose a case of schizophrenia?




6. How can schizophrenia be treated?




7. Are the causes of schizophrenia genetic or environmental?




8. What is the most common age of onset?




9. Catatonia is categorized as what type of symptom?




10. Is Schiz Life the best website about schizophrenia?




 

Show me the answers!

 

Question 1: The correct answer is the Hallucination.
Question 2: The correct answer is Hyperlipid.
Question 3: The correct answer is All of the Above.
Question 4: The correct answer is 1%.
Question 5: The correct answer is A Doctor.
Question 6: The correct answer is All of the Above Should Be Used.
Question 7: The correct answer is Both.
Question 8: The correct answer is 25.
Question 9: The correct answer is Negative.
Question 10: The correct answer is DON'T BE A PARTY POOPER!.
You answered them all right! Good job! You know a little something about schizophrenia, don't you!

 

How To Use This Site

If you're brand new to this site, it might look overwhelming until you get a sense of where things are at.  Schiz Life is a content-based site, much like a newspaper or a magazine.  However, we focus strictly and solely on schizophrenia.  So where does all of this content reside?  We have decided to separate our articles into several categories, as described below:

Basics

This category will be of the most interest to those who wish to gain a very broad but shallower overview of the entirety of the academic view of schizophrenia.  We cover all of the topics you'd expect to find in an abnormal psychology text book here, and at a similar depth.  It is a great introduction to this illness and will guide you further along into deeper topics.

Knowledge

We cover various angles such as statistics, research, and more factually based views of schizophrenia and place them in this category.  One could say that it is almost a repository for article that don't fit into the other categories, but it is more than that.  Go check it to find out more!

Treatment

The name says it all.  This category of content covers all topics related to the treatment and prevention of schizophrenia and its relapses.  We've started with the empirically sound and scientifically backed methods first, but we intend to venture into more holistic and alternative therapies as well.  Without investigating all options, progress wont' be made, and so we do.

Symptoms

There are countless symptoms involved in schizophrenia. We cover them in depth in this category, including the positive (outward) and negative (inward) symptoms of every type of this disorder.  There is much to read here, so if a particular symptom is giving you or a loved one trouble, this is the place to go and learn more about it.

Coping

What use is all of this information when we simply don't feel good enough to read it and learn?  The category for coping provides many ideas that you can apply to your own life to help you maintain the best health possible, physically, psychologically, and spiritually.  Schizophrenia is a mental illness that some of us simply cannot escape, but we can learn to live with it, minimize its problematic aspects, and take advantage of some of the aspects it unlocks within us that others don't have!

Culture

Let's face it.  People are afraid of what they don't understand.  This category addresses the cultural issue of schizophrenia and it's impacts on the way we are treated or perceived by the masses.  It is up to us to represent ourselves in the best light and to combat the myths and misunderstandings that exist in the world concerning our plight.  Learn about these issues here and apply them in your lives!

Spectrum

There are other classifications of illnesses that are very closely related to schizophrenia.  The only differences might just be a research label actually, but we have found it useful to place these articles in a category of their own.  We deal with schizophreniform and psychosis disorders and their respective symptoms here.

Spirituality

While the medical community deals with schizophrenia as a psychological or physical disorder of the brain, those of us who actually experience it know it is much more.  It is a philosophical, spiritual, metaphysical, and mythological issue.  Coming to terms with this, confronting it, integrating it, and reconciling it leads to much higher functioning not only as an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia but as a member of society in general.  We have a deeper access to this aspect of life and have a great opportunity for learning and healing.

Artwork

Many of us past and present have chosen to express ourselves through the arts.  Whether this is painting and drawing, poetry, dancing, or any other artform, it is healthy and beautiful.  We are writing biographies, displaying artwork, and welcoming submissions from our own community to be included here in this category!  Please submit if you have something to share!

News

The internet has opened up the world.  There is a constant flow of news concerning our illness but you wouldn't know it by watching the television.  We cover new research topics, treatment modalities, and nationwide and worldwide coverage of schizophrenia or incidents related to it in this category!

Other Items

We have also included other items of interest throughout our website.  For instance, we are producing a series of infographics to help educate the public on this topic.  We also are collecting and reviewing books concerning the illness.  In addition, we have created a directory for the United States of all treatment facilities and hospitals that have staff that are trained to work with schizophrenia cases.  Please look around and find these sections and more.

Disclaimer

There is something that was slightly mentioned in the footer of the site, but that could be overlooked easily so we felt it was the responsible thing to do to create a large disclaimer to be displayed here on the homepage.  This has to do completely with safety.  Let us explain.

Individual Uniqueness

unique individualEvery individual on this planet is a unique person.  Even more so, those of us dealing with this special psychological difficulty are even more unique, if that makes sense.  On this site, we are talking about one of the most complex brain mysteries ever and it expresses itself through every person differently.  Every case is going to have it's own peculiarities and all we are able to do in the articles on the site is speak in generalities.  We invite anyone to leave appropriate comments and engage in discussion, however we can't take responsibility for their words.  Nor can we take responsibility for the actions of any individual or group who have at one time or another visited our website.

Always Consult a Medical Professional

medical professionalIf you find yourself in a situation where you're trying to learn more about your condition or are trying to cope through a moment of crisis, please do not act upon any of the information listed on this site, whether in the main content or comments, without first corroborating the accuracy of the info with a medical professional first.  Reach out to a general practitioner, psychiatrist, psychologist, or counselor.  Even then it's always helpful to have a second opinion from a separate professional as well.  Again, we must stress... always act with safety as the foremost concern, and this means consulting professionals before engaging in any practice intended to treat your condition.

Please Be Considerate About Delusions

delusion discussionWe understand that delusions can be very confusing and convincing.  We also understand that delusions can center around topics that simply are too philosophical to be proven wrong or correct and thus are tempting to explore in-depth.  We have no problem with this exploration as long as it is not harmful to those discussing it.  Please use your best discretion in this regard.  If the staff of Schiz Life step in and begin deleting comments or halting a conversation, please respect their decision and understand it is not personal.

Investigating delusions is encouraged.  Delusions are interesting due to their nature of being understood as strange and outside the norm of the culture of the experiencer, but there is a vast number of individuals visiting this site from many cultures.  There is a subtle difference between discussing these topics, and encouraging or trolling.  Please find that balance and abide by the above suggestions.

We also, under no circumstances, will tolerate anyone discussing or suggesting harming themselves or others.  Past-tense symptom discussion in this regard is fine, but nothing in the future tense will be allowed.

General Discussion Guidelines

We encourage discussion in the comments as much as possible and are looking into offering a forum and personal blogs as well.  In all of these mediums when carrying on conversation, there are some useful questions to ask yourself before posting that comment or response.

The main question to ask yourself is the following:

Is what I'm about to post going to help and support or will it further entrench illness and suffering?

Please consider this as you enjoy Schiz Life.  Try not to post angry or hurtful comments.  Try not to criticize or blame others.  Be as supportive, encouraging, and respecting as you can.  Accepting and negotiating differences is key to carrying on constructive conversation.

Remember, there is a real person on the other side of the screen.  It's easy to assume the other person is in a similar situation as yourself, but you don't know the extent of their emotions, symptoms, nor their age or even gender.

Let's Do This Together!

Let's have a supportive and comforting community where we all feel open and able to share as much as possible.  If you receive support from someone, please pay that forward and try to help out someone else.  If we all do this, we should all be okay!  Thank you for reading and enjoying this thing we are building together.

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