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10 Things You Need to Know about Paranoid Schizophrenia

10 Things You Need to Know about Paranoid Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia affects over one percent of the population, a figure that equates to more than 3 million people battling the condition in the United States. Those suffering from the disorder can have a hard time functioning in society, experiencing anything from an inability to concentrate and remember things to outright hallucinations and paranoid delusions.

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Paranoid schizophrenia is the most common type of schizophrenia, often affecting one’s ability to remain grounded in reality. It can seriously decrease a person’s ability to live an independent life and interact with others in a socially acceptable manner. If left untreated, those suffering from this mental disorder can become a danger to others, or much more commonly, to themselves.

Fortunately, advances in the diagnosis and treatment of paranoid schizophrenia continue to be made. With proper medical care and a strong support system, someone affected by this disorder can be a fully engaged member of a community and experience a vastly improved quality of life.

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What Is Paranoid Schizophrenia? 

It is a serious, chronic psychiatric condition that impairs a person’s ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Sufferers display abnormal emotional responses to everyday events, making it difficult to interact with society.

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Causes, Signs, and Symptoms of Paranoid Schizophrenia

Early diagnosis and treatment are important when dealing with paranoid schizophrenia. Understanding the disorder, not only for the patient but also for family and friends, will be of great help as a treatment plan is devised and implemented.

Causes

While the exact cause remains unknown, recent advances point to more than one factor contributing to a person developing paranoid schizophrenia. There is an obvious genetic element as the odds of having the condition rise from the previously stated 1 percent to 10 percent if a parent or sibling has it, and to about 50 percent if that sibling is an identical twin.

Evidence also suggests that a person’s environment, through a complex genetic interaction, plays a significant role. From oxygen insufficiencies before birth and fetal growth interruptions at the earliest stages of life to substance abuse and changes in physical environment closer to the onset of the condition, there is an unmistakable environmental element.

Signs and Symptoms

Typically, paranoid schizophrenia has an early life onset, usually between the ages of 16 and 30. Male patients tend to experience an earlier onset than females though it’s rare for any person to be diagnosed in mid-life or later. Early symptoms can be general and include:

  • Irritability
  • Loss of concentration
  • Drops in social interaction
  • Insomnia

During what’s known as the prodromal phase, when the disorder is becoming more recognizable, these symptoms can worsen into:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to focus
  • Isolation from others
  • Neglect of personal hygience

Once the condition progresses and becomes more obvious, serious symptoms manifest themselves:

  • Auditory hallucinations (“hearing voices,” the most common of the symptoms revealing a serious problem may be at hand)
  • Visual hallucinations
  • Persistent ideas of persecution or grandeur
  • Paranoid suspicions of others’ motives

Though the above symptoms don’t automatically indicate paranoid schizophrenia, a mental health evaluation would be in order.

After the prodromal phase, the patient enters into the active phase of paranoid schizophrenia. They will experience debilitating hallucinations and perceive irrational events not based in reality. They may experience impaired motor or cognitive abilities, including disjointed or nonsensical speech and noticeably odd or even catatonic behavior.

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Treatment of Paranoid Schizophrenia

Once a diagnosis is confirmed, antipsychotic medication is the first line of treatment in 90 percent of patients. Psychological and behavioral therapy also play important roles, helping patients develop or keep social skills, reduce anxiety and depression, and deal with events from their past that may be contributing factors to their disorder. Specific examples of these treatments include:

Medication

Since there is no cure for paranoid schizophrenia, managing its symptoms becomes the goal of any treatment plan. Antipsychotic medications help relieve symptoms like hallucinations and delusions. There are many types of antipsychotics available and in varying dosage forms. Your mental healthcare provider should be able to provide you with information about the different medications available for treatment. Medications have proven to be very effective at reducing symptoms and allowing many patients to return to a more stable life, including returning to work and having constructive interactions with others. Unfortunately, significant side effects can be a problem, so be sure to ask your doctor so you’ll know what to expect.

Psychiatric Theraphy

Psychotherapy plays an important role in the treatment of paranoid schizophrenia as well. A psychiatrist or psychotherapist can help patients with social skill issues, aid in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help patients cope with difficult issues they’ve experienced in life, often improving relationships with family and friends.

Support Network

Because paranoid schizophrenic patients often require assistance in seeking help and adhering to a plan of treatment, it’s important that they have support. Commonly, a team of mental health professionals will oversee a patient’s case management. This can include educating friends and family about how to support the patient, the patient’s medication management, and education and employment support. Ongoing support from outside the medical community is usually necessary as well to ensure patients take their medication, keep appointments, and maintain positive interaction with society. A solid network of support aids patients in living a productive and fulfilling life.

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10 Things You Need to Know about Paranoid Schizophrenia

Here are few things to further inform you and to dispel some common misconceptions about paranoid schizophrenia.

1

It’s Not a Choice

Paranoid schizophrenia is a brain disorder that negatively affects the way a person thinks, acts, expresses themselves, sees the world around them, and interacts with other people. Until they begin treatment, a person has no control over their condition. Learning how to support them during their battle is how you can help them.

2

It’s No One’s Fault

The patient didn’t ask for it and nobody else is to blame either. While a patient’s environment plays a role in the disorder, nobody did anything to them to make them a paranoid schizophrenic. It’s a trying ordeal for everyone involved. Supporting them with compassion lets the patient know you care. Even if they don’t thank you in a customary way, they depend on you to help them overcome the obstacles they face. You can make for a brighter future for all involved through your continued support.

3

You Are Not Alone

As mentioned early on, paranoid schizophrenia affects millions in the United States alone. There are plenty of resources and support groups available to help you understand and cope with what you’re going through. Your mental health professional can steer you in the right direction.

4

It May Be a Long Process

Paranoid schizophrenia is often slow to manifest itself. You may begin to notice subtle signs well before a diagnosis can be made. Often, some serious effects are seen before treatment is implemented. Prepare yourself for the peaks and valleys that come along with the disorder. As a family member or friend, there are resources for you as well when the going gets too tough to handle alone.

5

Prepare for the Unexpected

Realize that this is an unpredictable disorder. Even patients undergoing treatment commonly relapse or battle significant symptoms. Know what to do when these incidences arise. Have medical contact information close at hand and be ready to call on support members depending on the situation you’re dealing with.

6

Violence Is Not Common

Contrary to popular belief, paranoid schizophrenia sufferers are not prone to violent outbursts. It is much more common for the patient to be withdrawn. In fact, patients are more likely to suffer from acts of violence than commit them. That said, there are situations where violent outbursts happen. Going back to our previous point, planning about how to deal with that possibility is essential.

7

A Medication Routine Is Important

The key word here is “routine”. Once medications are prescribed, and the patient regains some stability, it’s important to maintain a consistent medication regimen. Starting and stopping meds, adjusting doses without medical advice, or adding other drugs and alcohol to the mix will increase the chances of a relapse. It’s critical to stay consistent with medication plans. If side effects become a problem, discuss it with your doctor before making any changes.

8

Psychotherapy Can Be Just As Important

While there’s no denying the importance of pharmaceuticals in the treatment of paranoid schizophrenia, therapy also plays a vital role. Therapists can teach the patient different methods of dealing with symptoms of the disorder and help in improving social skills that lead to a more stable life at home. They can also provide support and advice for family and friends charged with caring for the patient.

9

Substance Abuse Is Common

About half of paranoid schizophrenia patients abuse illicit drugs, alcohol, or prescribed medications. Patients must be watched for signs of drug or alcohol abuse.

10

It’s Not a Full-Time Disorder

People who suffer from paranoid schizophrenia have periods where they exhibit “normal” behavior even without treatment. They are productive, intelligent people capable of doing constructive things with their lives. Treatment ensures that they can lead a life with limited interruptions by their disorder.

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Conclusion

Hopefully, we’ve provided some helpful information that has increased your understanding of paranoid schizophrenia. It is a serious psychological disorder that must be diagnosed and treated appropriately. It is not an untreatable affliction that dooms the patient to a tortured life in an institution. With proper treatment and a good support network, many patients are able to work, maintain healthy relationships, and lead a productive life – basically, what all people aspire to do.

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