Many people think they know what schizophrenia is because they’ve seen representations of it in pop culture. But while films such as 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind” or 2009’s “The Soloist” give a glimpse into what it can be like to experience some aspects of schizophrenia, for those who have or know someone with the mental disorder, the day-to-day reality can be much less glamorous than what Hollywood portrays.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes schizophrenia as a complex chronic brain disorder that makes it so the patient cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not. Schizophrenia affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to schizophrenia or schizophrenia treatment. The mental disorder manifests itself not as one of many schizophrenia types but rather through several symptoms that vary by person in terms of frequency, duration and severity. While there used to be names for different schizophrenia types, in 2013 the distinct terms were discontinued. Diagnosing schizophrenia requires other possible causes of the symptoms — such as drug or substance abuse or other medical or mental conditions — to be ruled out. Treatment options usually include various antipsychotic drugs and forms of therapy.
According to Mayo Clinic, people with schizophrenia are unlikely to realize they have it, so it’s often up to friends and family to help them get the help and support they need. Recognizing some of the symptoms and signs of schizophrenia can help.
It’s commonly known that people with this mental disorder may experience hallucinations, but the signs of schizophrenia don’t end there. According to the NIMH and the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), there are three categories of symptoms of schizophrenia:
It can be hard to recognize the early signs of schizophrenia in teenagers, Mayo Clinic notes, because several of the symptoms are already common of typical teen development: trouble sleeping, a drop in academic performance, withdrawal from friends and family, lack of motivation, and irritability or depressed mood.
Less than one percent of the population is affected by schizophrenia, according to the APA. Signs of schizophrenia usually appear in a person when they’re between the ages of 16 and 30, and people usually don’t develop it after age 45. Both males and females can develop the mental disorder, though it’s generally thought to be slightly more common in males and more likely to develop at a younger age in males, according to the NLM.
Is schizophrenia genetic? The answer is complicated. Schizophrenia can run in families, but sometimes individuals are the only ones in their family to have it, and other times people don’t have it even when several of their family members do.
When it comes to the causes of schizophrenia, the NLM says genetics, environment and brain chemistry may all play a role. According to the NIMH, genetic information alone can’t predict who will get the mental disorder; instead, different genes may increase the risk, particularly when they mix with environmental factors a person has experienced. Those factors could include viruses, malnutrition in the womb, problems during birth, and psychosocial factors that are known to otherwise impact physical health (stress, hopelessness, depression, etc.).
There is no cure, but there is treatment for schizophrenia. With proper care, most people living with schizophrenia can live full, productive, and rewarding lives. Medicine for schizophrenia, including antipsychotic medications, can help manage or reduce existing symptoms and to prevent future worsening of symptoms, according to the APA. Antipsychotic medications are the most commonly prescribed medicine for schizophrenia, according to Mayo Clinic, though antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs also may be effective. Finding the right drugs to treat schizophrenia can be challenging because many of the medications cause adverse side effects.
Other forms of treatments, such as therapy, rehabilitation, skills training, and family education, can also help mitigate symptoms and give people with schizophrenia the tools and support they need to succeed as they manage their chronic mental disorder.
The Phoenix Recovery and Counseling Centers offer medication and other forms of treatment to help those who have schizophrenia. Diagnosing schizophrenia takes time, but even if someone has yet to receive a formal diagnosis, The Phoenix can perform an assessment and determine which treatment program may be right for them. The programs offered by The Phoenix include a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) Day Program, Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), or General Outpatient Program (GOP). If Residential Treatment is deemed necessary for stabilizing a patient, we will assist in connecting that patient with one of our partnering community residential treatment facilities.
We carefully tailor our research-supported programs and recovery experiences to each of our patients. The Phoenix Difference lets you know that we don’t hold back in our work to create outcomes where both patients and their families leave with the skills and knowledge they need to live a meaningful life as they manage their mental health disorders.
The Phoenix Recovery and Counseling Centers are driven by this guiding mission statement: “Empowering individuals and families suffering from addiction and mental health disorders, to celebrate life through lasting solutions.” The Phoenix succeeds in providing effective treatment through various care options designed to meet an individual’s needs in whatever specific circumstances they face. These programs include Residential Treatment, Day Treatment, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and General Outpatient (GOP). A weekly Alumni Support Meeting is also in place to give our alumni an ongoing support community.