From: Becca Von Ruden
WSU Intern Project COMPASS
One percent of the world’s population or one in every 100 people will develop schizophrenia in their lifetime. The most common onset is in the teens and 20s. It is uncommon for schizophrenia to be diagnosed before 12 years of age or after the age of 40. I work with clients who have schizophrenia and witness how the illness can take over the person’s life. Any mental illness can be difficult to manage, but with appropriate treatment options, the symptoms of schizophrenia can be less noticeable.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental illness that interferes with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to others. Research has linked schizophrenia to changes in brain chemistry and structure. Like diabetes, schizophrenia is a complex, long-term medical illness that affects everyone differently. Symptoms include delusions or the belief in things not real or untrue, hallucinations are hearing or seeing things that are not real, and disorganized speech expressed as an inability to generate a logical sequence of ideas. Negative symptoms include emotional flatness or lack of expressiveness, inability to start and follow through with activities, and lack of pleasure or interest in life.
The treatment of schizophrenia requires an all-encompassing approach that includes medication, therapy, and psychosocial rehabilitation. Medication is an important aspect of symptom management. Therapy has been shown to be an effective part of a treatment plan. Recovery is possible for most people, though it is important to remember that some people have more trouble managing their symptoms. Families who are educated about schizophrenia can offer strong support to their loved one and help reduce the likelihood of relapse.
For more information on schizophrenia and support groups email Helen.firstname.lastname@example.org or NAMI - National Alliance on Mental Illness at www.NAMI.org. No one should have to go through this illness alone and support really does help!