Previous research has shown that individuals with autoimmune diseases, such as hepatitis, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and psoriasis, are at a higher risk for schizophrenia. But new research shows that the relationship may be mutual: people who have schizophrenia have a higher risk of autoimmune diseases, especially if they have suffered from a severe […]
Recent studies have found that individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia are less likely to report drug use, which could hinder the patient’s treatment. In one study, doctors suspected that patients with severe mental disorders were not reporting drug use accurately and this was leading to barriers in treatment. When patients underwent drug testing for cannabis, cocaine and methamphetamine, 38% tested positive for drug use. However, 58% did not report using these drugs. It was found that those most likely to conceal their drug use were older and had greater neurological deficiency.
Since this poses a problem to doctors trying to treat patients, there is one thing that can be done to alleviate this and increase the amount of reporting. It is thought that the fear of disclosure and judgment is causing individuals to hide this information. The study authors state that establishing a positive alliance between physicians and patients could improve the individual’s willingness to disclose drug use information.
Self-care can be as basic as eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and generally managing your health. Healthy lifestyle changes can also improve your self-esteem and overall wellbeing, which is especially important for people managing a mental health condition like schizophrenia.
However, people with schizophrenia can often neglect healthy behaviors. A lack of motivation, one of the many symptoms can be the cause. Check out the following strategies for schizophrenics to improve their quality of life:
- Be an advocate for your own healthcare. You need to make sure you tell your doctor how serious you feel about your symptoms. Talk to your doctor and find out what you should be doing to keep healthy. Ask questions and write down instructions when taking medication and set reminders for prescription refills.
- Quit smoking. People with mental illnesses are twice as likely to smoke compared with others. Smoking increases your risk for many illnesses, and it can interfere with the absorption of your medications. Studies show that quitting smoking does not make your mental illness worse. In fact, if you stop smoking, you may be able to lower your dose and have fewer side effects such as weight gain or trouble sleeping.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Weight gain is a common side effect of drugs used to treat schizophrenia. “The medications that schizophrenics often are prescribed are notorious for stimulating appetite,” says Thomas Smith, MD, associate professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and medical director of the New York City Mental Health Care Monitoring Initiative.
- Be active. An active lifestyle can help prevent diabetes, heart conditions, and weight gain. If illness-related factors such as depression or negative symptoms limit your motivation, try to address the symptoms with psychological treatment.
- Get enough sleep. People with mental illness often have sleep problems. To improve sleep quality, don’t drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages or smoke before bed, these are all stimulants. Have a bedtime snack like milk or turkey, which are natural sleep inducers. Go to bed at the same time each night. However, don’t try to fall asleep if you’re wide awake. Relax before bed with a book or soothing music.
People with schizophrenia must take care of body and mind. The healthier your body, the better you will feel physically and mentally.
While you may know how to thwart some illnesses, schizophrenia, a mental disorder that makes separating fantasy from reality difficult, it is a tougher condition to prevent.
Schizophrenia affects roughly 1% of the global population. The early stages of schizophrenia are called prodrome and usually begin in a person’s late teens and twenties. This phase involves a person hearing imaginary things or having strange thoughts.
Even though scientists are not certain why some people develop schizophrenia, research suggests that at least three areas are involved: genetics, the environment, and early drug use.
Schizophrenia: Reducing Genetic Risk
For those who do not have family members with schizophrenia, the risk of developing it is relatively slim. The odds are higher among people with a sibling (5%) or parent (10%) with the disease, and highest for a person with an identical twin (about 50%).
Some diseases have clear genetic markers, but schizophrenia has several genes that may be involved in determining its risk.
Schizophrenia: Reducing the Environmental Risk
Environmental factors are hard to control, especially since they seem to affect people differently. Facing a stressful event is typically when the onset of schizophrenia occurs. People who have experienced traumatic childhood experiences are more likely to develop schizophrenia than people who have not.
“Mental illness is higher in families with abuse and neglect,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Schizophrenia: Early Drug Use
There is strong evidence to suggest that illicit drug use, particularly marijuana, may worsen the course of schizophrenia, but the role drugs play in the onset of schizophrenia is harder to determine. Duckworth says it is possible that marijuana may trigger schizophrenia in people who have a genetic risk for the disorder. But not all people with schizophrenia have used drugs, and not all drug users develop mental illness.
A genetic counselor might be able to help assess your risk more accurately by taking a complete family medical history. Even so, more research is necessary to find how genetics and environment work together to cause schizophrenia.
For many people living with schizophrenia, the most frustrating aspect is the inability to tell whether or not the things you are thinking are actually taking place in reality. Simply put, when someone has schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, interacting with the world in a meaningful and socially cognitive way is more than difficult.
Michael Hendrick has lived with schizophrenia for about eight years and has been symptomatically stable for years; however, during this time he has experienced a few periods of uncertainty. Shortly after being diagnosed, he felt socially “dead”. He didn’t even complete everyday tasks such as entering a grocery store.
For Michael, part of his experience socializing with others has been the analysis that happens both during and after any interaction. After every interaction, even those as minor as greeting the pizza delivery guy or the gas station attendant, could go on for hours or even days.
After struggling with his schizophrenia, Michael learned about a formal technique of therapy called Cognitive Enhancement Therapy (CET) to help his behaviors. CET is a recovery phase intervention for symptomatically stable persons with severe mental illness who remain socially and vocationally disabled. The Center for Cognition and Recovery says CET works by helping individuals develop and enhance the mental capacities for social interactions by using a combination of training in attention, memory and problem solving.
Schizophrenia is a chronic and sometimes disabling condition of the brain that affects about one percent of the American population. Many people who are not close with an individual with this condition do not know factual information on this illness. To further educate yourself, here are four facts about Schizophrenia that you should know.
- Schizophrenia is manageable. With the right antipsychotic medication and therapy, symptoms of this illness will begin to dissipate. Psychiatrists state that it takes about six weeks of treatment to start seeing an improvement.
- Schizophrenics are usually not violent towards others in public. Most violent crimes are not committed by people who have schizophrenia. If violence occurs, it is usually brought upon by a family member or friend triggering the schizophrenic, and it will normally occur at home.
- Suicide risk is high. People suffering from schizophrenia unfortunately attempt suicide more than others. About ten percent of people with the illness either attempt or successfully execute suicide. The rate of suicide is also higher in men with schizophrenia then women.
- Medication can cure symptoms of the illness but also has side-effects. Although the medication can help cure symptoms of schizophrenia such as hallucinations, the side-effects can be quite disabling. Side-effects include: drowsiness, dizziness muscle spasms, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat and so on. The upside is that a lot of these side-effects can be managed after a couple of weeks on being on the antipsychotics.
Schizophrenia negative symptoms are defined as a decline or absence in the traits needed for normal functioning. These include loss of interest in everyday activities, lack of emotion, social withdrawal, reduced ability to plan or carry out activities, neglect of personal hygiene, and loss of motivation.
If you or someone you know suffers from these negative symptoms, you should know ways to increase your motivation, and in turn, your successes.
Every successful person has encountered failure, but failure is just a temporary roadblock to success. You can get past any roadblock on your journey to success, but to do that you will need confidence.
Here are some surefire ways to increase your confidence until you know you will succeed—and you will!
- Look the part
If you walk around unclean, you look like you don’t care about yourself, and you will feel the same way too. Stay clean and buy a few pieces of clothing that will keep you looking good.
- Fake it!
Do you try to hide in the background? Do you hunch your shoulder over, hoping no one will notice you? This demonstrates a lack of confidence. Walk tall, shoulder back, posture erect, head held high. Believe yourself to be a confident person and carry yourself as if you are!
- Edit your internal dialog
We all have words running through our brains every day. Stop allowing yourself to subconsciously undermine your confidence. Pay attention to what you are saying to yourself. When your find yourself being negative, edit them out. Practice saying positive things to yourself, either internally or out loud like “I can do this.”
- Set small goals and achieve them
Sometimes a big goal can be overwhelming. Each small goal you achieve brings you closer to your large, exciting goal. But also, for every small goal you achieve, you will become more confident in your ability to achieve greater success.
- Be happy… and grateful
None of us has a perfect life because there is no such thing, and if we did have a perfect life, we’d still find something we wanted to improve upon. Happiness is only 10 percent our circumstances. It is 90 percent the way we choose to view things. Choose every day to be thankful for everything you have in life. This doesn’t mean you have to be content with the way everything is, but there’s no reason to mope around about it. Work toward changing it if possible, and if not accept it and go on with life.
Most people used to think of hoarding as a harmless eccentricity; however, this compulsion has been linked to mental illnesses like OCD and schizophrenia. Recently, compulsive hoarding has begun to receive attention in schizophrenia research.
Schizophrenics often collect things at random, filling their homes with items that might mean something or fulfill some hidden or unknown longing. It could also be random garbage collected with no thought to its use or purpose. The hoarding schizophrenic collects these items, has trouble parting with them, and allows the home to be overrun with clutter.
Schizophrenia Symptoms and Hoarding
Although there is little research on the links between schizophrenia and hoarding, there are several symptoms of schizophrenia that could cause hoarding:
- Delusion. Some people with schizophrenia because of particular delusions. Some schizophrenics can have paranoid delusions about people stealing their belongings.
- Disorganized thought. People with extremely disorganized thinking may not be able to take proper care of their possessions. They may not have the mental capacity to be able to organize their belongings and throw things away, so their belongings accumulate.
- Impulsive or compulsive behavior. Schizophrenia has been linked to both impulsive behaviors and compulsive behaviors. A hoarding schizophrenic might buy items on impulse, and then be compelled to keep the items even if they have no value or purpose.
How Families Can Help
Hoarding can put family members of a schizophrenic in a hard position, knowing that their loved one is acting in a destructive manner, but not sure what they should do about it. They can see that hoarding is a terrible problem, but their loved one cannot.
Do not become confrontational over the clutter and filth. That will just cause your loved one to become defensive. Also, don’t just hire someone to come in and clean up while they are out of the home. If you just come in and clean the house, you don’t do anything to treat the underlying hoarding disorder.
One family member should be designated to approach the patient and talk about what motivates the hoarding. Be empathetic and listen to the other person’s perspective.
Talking and listening can help you figure out ways to show your loved one how hoarding keeps her from enjoying life. For example, she might want her grandchildren to come visit, but you can show that children will be unable to get into the house or find a place to sit or safely play due to the hoarded clutter.
Helping link the hoarding to some emotional goal can help motivate treatment. The key is: Nothing is going to happen until the person is ready to change.
For people with schizophrenia, hospitals are familiar places. Just how often a patient will end up in a hospital depends on the severity of the schizophrenic symptoms, how often those symptoms flare up, and the patient’s access to treatment outside the hospital.
Schizophrenia Hospitalization: The First Visit
The first time someone with schizophrenia might go to the hospital is for the first psychotic episode. Once there, hospital staff will take plenty of tests; these will cover the patient’s psychiatric and psychological profiles, as well as a psychological assessment of their family.
Having your loved one in the hospital gives doctors the chance to closely observe them and prescribe the right medications. Your loved one wouldn’t get this kind of care on an outpatient basis, so the hospital is a good place for them to be.
For those with schizophrenia consider:
- Schizophrenia causes thinking that can be stressful and chaotic. For some, the hospital is calming
- The hospital provides access to important services like social and therapeutic supports
- The managed environment of a hospital ensures that your loved one takes her medications every day.
Once your loved one leaves the hospital, a treatment plan in her community will be necessary. Without treatment, the odds that she will return to the hospital are high.
Schizophrenia Hospitalization: Other Visits
Your loved one may return to the hospital to stabilize his or her medication. Drug abuse is a common occurrence with people with schizophrenia and may be another reason for a hospital stay. And if the schizophrenia becomes chronic, with times when the symptoms get out of hand, the hospital may be the best place for your loved one to be.
Schizophrenia: Voluntary vs. Involuntary Commitments
A person may choose to enter a hospital to control their symptoms. This is called voluntary hospitalization. There are also situations when a person with schizophrenia may be forced to go to the hospital. These are:
- Violence to others. Only a small percentage of people with schizophrenia are violent. People with schizophrenia who use drugs or alcohol are the most prone to violence.
- Suicide threat. Suicide risk is high. For a hospital to take the threat of suicide seriously, the person issuing it needs to have a plan, and the means to carry out the plan
Strict guidelines exist to determine who can be committed involuntarily to a hospital, and how long they can stay there. However, it’s important to remember that people who are forced into treatment may develop a sense of distrust for treatment providers and family members, which can delay recovery in the long run.
Voluntary commitment may also depend on whether you have the means to pay hospital costs. Under-funded public hospitals frequently deny services to people who do not quite meet the criteria of dangerousness outlined above.
With the downward spiral of TV celebrity Amanda Bynes, the world’s focus is on schizophrenia. While the condition ranks high in the public’s consciousness, our collective understanding of it is low. There are a number of falsehoods about people with schizophrenia based on the false assumption that the experience of each schizophrenic is the same.
Here are some myths and realities of schizophrenia:
• Myth: People with schizophrenia have “split personalities.”
• Reality: This is a symptom of a completely different illness.
“Split personalities” or “multiple personalities” are not a symptom of schizophrenia; in fact, these symptoms indicate a different mental illness called Dissociative Identity Disorder. The “split mind” of the schizophrenic refers to the dissociation between thought and feeling. “A person may be telling a very sad story while smiling, or may be afraid of things that are completely mundane,” says Duckworth. A person with schizophrenia may react inappropriately to situations but does not mean he or she has multiple personalities.
• Myth: People with schizophrenia are dangerous.
• Reality: Some people with schizophrenia may be dangerous, but most are not.
Some people with schizophrenia may be prone to violent outbursts. There is evidence that suggests psychoses can fuel violent behaviors, but the actual numbers don’t justify a fear of all people with schizophrenia. In fact, people with schizophrenia are in greater danger of being victimized by the general population.
• Myth: People with schizophrenia will never get better.
• Reality: Many people recover.
“Symptoms sometimes lose their intensity,” Duckworth says. Most people can find some form of relief from symptoms. Up to half of patients suffering with schizophrenia can experience significant or even complete recovery with treatment.