Mental disorders are often portrayed in a bad light in media,1 resulting in negative stereotypes that have long been ingrained in American culture. However, just like physical ailments, mental disorders are an illness, and those who suffer from them need help and support.
There’s a large lack of understanding and education on how to cope with mental diseases, as many people typically focus on physical health.
It’s estimated that 54 million Americans are affected with a mental illness in a given year.2 The most common types that you may have heard about are depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is probably the most misunderstood.
Common Misconceptions About Schizophrenia
There are plenty of misconceptions that surround schizophrenia. The examples below are the most prominent ones, which you may already be aware of:3
• Schizophrenics have multiple personalities — It’s not clear how this idea came about, but schizophrenics do not have “split” or multiple personalities. The word “schizo” does mean split, but the word actually refers to a person’s ability to think and express emotions. People with multiple personalities are diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder.
• Schizophrenics have dangerous behavior — This myth stems from the negative portrayal of schizophrenics in films, where they’re often depicted as criminals with dangerous, paranoid behavior. In truth, only a very small number of schizophrenics commit crimes, with only 23% of this rooted directly in their symptoms.
• Schizophrenia can’t be treated — While it’s true that schizophrenia has no cure, that doesn’t mean schizophrenics can’t be helped. A combination of different treatment methods can work together to reduce your risk for a schizophrenia attack. In fact, many schizophrenics go on to have a successful recovery and excel in their chosen careers.
• Schizophrenia is caused by bad parenting or a bad childhood4 — People often speculate that the reason why a person gets schizophrenia is due to having a difficult childhood. This isn’t the case, as schizophrenia is caused by a complex interplay of genes and your environment. Your upbringing is just one part of the equation.
How Does Schizophrenia Affect You?
Schizophrenia is a disease that affects the way you perceive reality and can cause major behavioral changes. Defining symptoms include:5
- Cognitive problems, such as trouble thinking logically
- Having hallucinations or hearing voices
- Reduced speech
- Attention problems
- Lack of pleasure in daily activities/routines
- Odd beliefs that others do not agree with
- Lack of emotional expression during speech
- Agitated body movements
Researchers aren’t sure how schizophrenia develops, but evidence suggests that schizophrenia has a hereditary component. If you have a schizophrenic relative, you have an increased risk that you may get it as well.
Treating schizophrenia relies on a combination of different methods, all working together to help manage the symptoms. A healthy diet, exercise and supportive therapy are generally recommended to help lower your risk for an attack. Medication may be prescribed as well, but be aware that medications come with many side effects.
This guide aims to educate you about schizophrenia, such as its different subtypes, symptoms, treatment and factors that may increase your risk. You’ll also discover how to spot early signs of this mental disorder. But note that the information provided here isn’t enough to help you manage schizophrenia alone. It’s still important to consult with a trusted doctor, preferably one who has plenty of experience helping schizophrenics in the past.