Many families often say that living a life with schizophrenia is a long journey for everyone involved. For many, the journey feels like blindly walking through a forest where many trees block the view of the road ahead. As discussed in the previous article, schizophrenia is often viewed as “a diagnosis with a poor prognosis.” Some studies show that schizophrenia can be improved with appropriate and timely treatment. Medication adherence is often the most important part of treatment. Sadly, because of the symptoms and behaviors involved, it can be very difficult for individuals to remain on their medication. For this reason, schizophrenia has a poor prognosis.
Unfortunately, we don’t have a cure for schizophrenia and with all the millions of medications on the market, not every drug is effective for every patient and not every patient will continue their medication either. This makes managing the illness very difficult and almost impossible for those individuals who experience delusions and hallucinations. Delusions are strong beliefs held to be true, despite evidence to the contrary. The delusions are not always bizarre such as believing one can fly or that they live on Mars. The delusions can seem very realistic, which makes it difficult to decipher them from reality.
Hallucinations, however, are not beliefs but sensory experiences that are not real. For example, hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, or feeling things that don’t exist can all be hallucinations. Another problematic component of the disorder is disorganized thinking. All of these symptoms can lead to problems with law enforcement due to:
- violent behavior
- poor thinking and decision making
- drug abuse/dependence
- being victimized by others
Lets talk about subcategories of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia can often look very different in different people, which is why makers of the DSM-IV-TR decided to create categories. The most common category is paranoid schizophrenia, which includes delusions and paranoia. For example, thinking others are watching you or hiding cameras in your home. Other categories include:
- Disorganized: Includes speech or behavior that is disorganized or confusing. People characterized under this label may laugh inappropriately such as at a funeral or say insensitive things. Some exhibit “word salad,” confused, jumbled speech.
- Undifferentiated: Include symptoms from all 4 categories (paranoid, disorganized, undifferentiated, residual). Symptoms are problematic, but not severe enough to categorize as any one of the above sub-categories.
- Residual: Individuals placed under this label have a history of schizophrenia, but no psychotic symptoms exist at the moment.
Schizophrenia is indeed a very difficult diagnosis to live with. Many families and suffering individuals lose hope when they receive a diagnosis. But keep in mind the importance of taking medication, continuing in treatment, and pursuing good mental health professionals who can help make this life transition a bit easier.
Click here to listen to an audio clip on the difficulties experienced by those with schizoprehnia. To read the transcript, click here.
To listen to my discussion with NAMI on severe and untreated mental illness, visit my site at Anchoredinknowledge.
I wish you all the best. Stay informed!
Brichford, C. (2013).When Schizophrenics Don’t Recognize Their Illness. EverydayHealth. Retrieved August 28, 2013, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/schizophrenia/recognizing-the-illness.aspx.
EverydayHealth. (2008). Violence and Psychosis: The Worst of the Schizoprhenia Subtypes. Retrieved August 28, 2013, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/schizophrenia/webcasts/violence-and-psychosis-the-worst-of-the-schizophrenia-stereotypes.aspx.
Photo Credit: Marcel