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Living a Full Life with Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?

What is Schizophrenia?

People in general are aware that there is some form of mental illness “out there” called schizophrenia, and that’s about as far as their knowledge goes. This psychological curiosity occurs in just under one percent of the population on the planet, which could be why the large majority of people remain ignorant to it. Not many people are likely to encounter this interesting anomaly of cognitive functioning. But those who do are immediately captivated by the vast array of experiences and behaviors that come along with the condition. This personal entwinement removes the fear, stigma, and taboo of schizophrenia and opens the gateways to knowledge and compassion.

It is not just the individual afflicted with schizophrenia that experiences an increase in the need for active management of their lives. This illness has an effect on the schizophrenic’s entire social circle, including the community, family, friends, and any other relations. It is, for this reason, wise for all of us to have some depth of understanding of schizophrenia. Understanding the definition of schizophrenia, knowing the symptoms, and being able to work with them will contribute to the meaningfulness of life for all parties. Of course, this is reward we all invite into our lives.

A Basic Introduction to Schizophrenia

Without using too many technical terms or medical and psychiatric jargon, let’s talk about schizophrenia in general in regards to the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and more.

It is often up to a person’s loved ones to notice a strangeness in behavior happening to help a person understand that something weird is going on. Schizophrenia, for the sufferer, is mainly an internal experience. There may be difficulty in distinguishing the differences between consensual reality and abstractions of their own mind. This oftentimes leads to confusion and a loss of clarity when it comes to thinking, planning, and executing daily activities. This confusion is usually inspired by highly complex thoughts and insights, which rouse much strong emotion. Having these powerful feelings inside can lead to an expression that may seem inappropriate for the situation at hand.

This is all the outsider can see, though. They don’t have access to the thoughts and internal experiences of the person dealing with these intense stimuli. They only see what happens behaviorally; the external expression is all anyone else can know of someone else’s internal world. And because schizophrenia can include a loss of self-awareness, the schizophrenic may not realize that their thoughts and feelings have become abnormal. This is why it is important for everyone to be able to recognize schizophrenic behaviors, so that the help needed can be obtained quickly and efficiently, reducing the overall suffering and returning the individual dealing with the mental disorder back to full functioning and happiness as fast as possible.

Why Does This Happen To Some People and Not Others?

To be fully honest, we don’t know anything for sure. The neuroscientist will explain the complexity of schizophrenia in regards to brain regions, synaptic firing, dendrite myelination, lesions, and other possibilities. The psychiatrist will focus on the imbalance of neurotransmitters. The psychologist will focus prior trauma, the disorganization of thought, the restructuring of the cognitive framework, and more. The priest and mystic will refer to spiritual awakenings, shamanic callings, vision quests, and more. But the truth is, these are all ideas that hold some validity, and the truth is likely some combination of all of these helpful offerings.

We do see a higher incidence of schizophrenia within family trees, meaning that if you have a family member who struggles with this disease, it is more likely for you to develop symptoms associated with schizophrenia than someone who has no relation with anyone dealing with it. This leads us to believe there is a genetic aspect to this mental illness.

We also see a higher incidence in men over women, around 1.4 times the amount of male schizophrenics over females. While an early on-set of the symptoms can happen as early as age 5, it is not very common. Plus doctors are not willing to give a personality disorder diagnosis to anyone below the age of 18. Most people see symptoms arising any time from age 20 up to 33 or so.

What are the Experiences and Symptoms of the Schizophrenic?

Although there are situations called psychotic breaks, which can result in sudden and forceful symptoms to appear rapidly, most of the symptoms associated with schizophrenia slowly build over the length of one year to several. It can be so slowly that nobody, including the schizophrenic or his or her family and friends, notices the shift until things become quite bizarre. The person’s increasingly odd behavior can cause them to slowly excommunicate and ostracize themselves, so that in the end there is nobody about to notice the continuing change in behavior and thought.

The early symptoms can be quite unnoticeable and easily confused as a symptom of some other condition. These can include sleeping difficulties, concentration problems, or even irritability and tension. These are not uncommon experiences for anybody, but as this psychological condition progresses, the depth of the psychosomatic distortions can grow to alarming heights. Some of these include:

• Blunted emotions and a flat affect
• Sensory distortions and hallucinations
• Delusions of reference and belief
• Loose associations of thought

The decrease in the experience of emotion will seem strange to an outside observer, as the person’s face will become “flat” and show very little insight into what the person is feeling (not much). Aberrations in the sensory stimuli will occur, such as small distortions in the visual field. This can be movements in the periphery, fuzziness and static, warped and flowing motions, etc. The person may begin to hear strange noises hidden within other sounds, or hear faint music inside their own head. The range of experience is far too vast to ever cover. The schizophrenic may smell things burning or interesting fragrances associated with colors, or when they look at a certain color they experience a specific taste or feeling on their body. This is called synesthesia, which is described as a crossing of the senses. Their thoughts can become very randomized, due to the lack of concentration abilities, and can jump from topic to topic. The person’s speech may resemble this type of “word salad.”

What are the Different Types of Schizophrenia?

Of course, the types of symptoms arising will also be related to the type of schizophrenia being experienced. There are several constellations of symptoms that can be compartmentalized under different categories of schizophrenia. Among these, the main types are Paranoid, Disorganized, Catatonic, and Undifferentiated schizophrenia.

Paranoid schizophrenia features more anxiety related symptoms, such as paranoia, fear, distrust, and nervousness. Disorganized schizophrenia features mental confusion and difficulty in expression, usually resembling very childlike communication and behavior. Catatonic schizophrenia features outward symptoms such as bodily rigidity, odd facial expressions that become locked into place, and a lack of response to stimuli. The undifferentiated type blurs these boundaries and may feature a combination of symptoms.

Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prognosis

There are no official tests that can be taken to confirm a case of schizophrenia. However, there are some online tests that can tell you if you feature certain tendencies related to the condition. To truly be diagnosed as schizophrenic, you must visit a psychiatrist or psychologist and have them interview you and your family to gain insight into what’s been going on. They may employ all types of tests in order to rule out other possibilities, such as blood tests, brain scans, and questionnaires.

The treatment of schizophrenia can include many different modalities of treatment, including hospitalization, medication, and psychotherapy. Hospitalization is oftentimes a must when the person hasn’t gained a full grasp on what is happening to them, and their bizarre behavior becomes a danger to themselves or others. Another reason this is beneficial is because they can be given a regimen of antipsychotic medications and watched to make sure the proper dosage is being given. There are also sometimes side effects in certain individuals that could require immediate attention, so it’s best to determine that upon initial administration of the medication.

Psychotherapy for schizophrenia can include individual sessions, family sessions, and support groups including all of these people and other schizophrenics. These groups all aim to accomplish one goal, which is teaching behavioral management including social skills, job training, relationship fostering, and financial control. They also aim to educate all parties involved, such as this website wishes to do as well.

The prognosis for schizophrenia is not something that can be done for the long-term. Schizophrenia is a life-long illness, but the symptoms can be managed using the methods above. If the person stays the course true, they have a better chance to minimize relapses of acute symptoms and management of their overall life. Depending on the severity of each individual case, the person may need help with housing and their job, and other needs such as public transportation. They may be able to live alone and be fully functioning members of society, or may need some in-home help, which is certainly okay. It is important to continue taking the medication prescribed and to not use alcohol or drugs. This type of self-medication can result in substance abuse and addiction problems.

This information reflects the very tip of the iceberg of information available on the topic of schizophrenia. I encourage everyone to read deeper and learn as much as possible, especially if they know someone, or they themselves live with schizophrenia. Knowledge can spawn courage, compassion, and wisdom. We should all arm ourselves with these weapons of love!

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this post! These kinds of articles make it very easy to understand the complex topic that is schizophrenia. And it makes my research paper that much easier! Thanks. Happy Halloween!

  2. I found your site after reviewing the various resources available at another website. I’m glad that I stopped by as this article was very helpful. Thanks for producing great content on schizophrenia. There are many different websites providing info, but few offering well researched articles like this.

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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