Everything you need to know about Schizophrenia

What is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a major mental illness that affects approximately 300,000 Canadians a year. It affects both males and females equally but the onset time for the illness is different. It appears in males in their early teens and twenties, but for females it is late twenties and early thirties. The illness itself affects people differently, some may be quiet for extended periods of time, or be frantic and scared about what they are experiencing. Patients may hallucinate, hear voices, be constantly paranoid, and even speak to the things their mind creates. People with schizophrenia live in a reality of their own and experience life as a whole very differently. As a result, when they are brought to terms with reality, it may cause fear, discomfort, and much more for the individual at hand. (Nordqvist, 2014)

What is the cause of Schizophrenia?

As of today it is still not known what the exact cause of schizophrenia is. It is believed that a mix of environmental factors along with certain genetics may be the cause. Another theory is that it may be caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Mainly dopamine and glutamine are said to be imbalanced but as previously stated it is only a theory at this point. Until our understanding of how the brain works increases, we will never know. At this point, it seems that schizophrenia is inherited as the statistics of you being diagnosed is much higher if you are related to someone that has schizophrenia. Identical twins are at the highest risk in the sense that if one sibling is diagnosed then the other child has a 40% - 60% chance of being diagnosed. A child of a parent that has schizophrenia have a 10% chance of being diagnosed. Finally if you are related with a second degree relative your chances are raised. Something else that was found amongst patients were brain abnormalities that were small but had a big impact on the development of the brain. However these abnormalities aren’t just limited to schizophrenic patients so this furthers the idea that the illness may be a mix of factors.( What is Schizophrenia, 2013)

Living with Schizophrenia:

Many problems may arise in the life of an individual diagnosed with schizophrenia. As the people impacted by this illness may interpret reality differently, it brings about many issues in day to day life. For one, social relationships are much harder to maintain in comparison to someone without schizophrenia. The reason being is hallucinations and the other things they may be experiencing will cause them to have trust issues and even treat past loved ones differently. This includes friends, family, and life partners that want to help. Another aspect of life that would change is life at the workplace, and this causes a lot of trouble for schizophrenics. Employers may treat them differently and even disregard them completely. If the work environment involves social interaction then customers/clients may not want to get help from a schizophrenic. This is because of the negative stigmas connected with mental health and because of them, the lives of patients are made much harder. Many diagnosed cannot live alone and need a care taker to help them through everyday tasks that may include getting dressed, making meals, and much more. As a result, a large percent of schizophrenics may end up on the streets or in halfway homes seeking help and aiming to get back on their feet.

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Treatment Options:

Treatment for schizophrenia has come a long way from lobotomies and cells. Psychotherapy is a major one which aids in helping teach patients important social skills, time management and keeping to a schedule as this helps individuals from indulging into their psychosis as they are constantly occupied. Psychotherapy also helps patients set small goals and achieve them so they gain a sense of fulfilment and feel more in tune with their feelings and senses. Another option is different medications with different dosages. Most patients refrain from using medication as they claim it doesn’t help with their psychosis and causes even worse side effects. Antipsychotic medications have been around since the 1950s and aim to fix the chemical imbalance that may cause schizophrenia. They block dopamine receptors in the brain. Talking to a doctor or specialist is key to understand what dosage may be correct as everyone is different and responds to medications differently. (Grohol, 2013)

Help for People with Schizophrenia

Ontario Mental health helpline- 1-866-531-2600

Hanbleceya Treatment center- 619-466-0547

Care Management Group (CMG)- 905-624-8289

Young Carers Program (YCP)- 416-364-1666