1. Schizophrenia is Treatable
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. About 1 % of Americans have this illness. With antipsychotic medications, schizophrenia symptoms such as feeling agitated and having hallucinations usually go away within days. Symptoms such as delusions usually go away within a few weeks. After about 6 weeks, many people will see a lot of improvement.
2. Types of Symptoms: Positive
Positive symptoms (such as hallucinations, delusions, thought disorders, and movement disorders) are psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms often “lose touch” with reality. These symptoms can come and go. Sometimes they’re severe and other times they’re hardly noticeable, depending on whether the person is receiving treatment.
3. Types of Symptoms: Negative
Negative symptoms (such as lack of pleasure, lack of ability to plan/start/complete activities) are associated with disruptions to normal emotions and behaviors. These symptoms are hard to recognize. They can be mistaken for depression or other conditions.
4. Types of Symptoms: Cognitive
Cognitive symptoms (such as poor ability to understand information and make plans, trouble focusing, inability to use newly learned information to solve problems) are often subtle. Like negative symptoms, they may be difficult to recognize as part of the disorder. Cognitive symptoms often make it hard to lead a normal life and earn a living. They can cause great emotional distress.
5. Schizophrenics Usually Aren’t Violent
Actually, most violent crimes are not committed by people with schizophrenia. Substance abuse may increase the chance a person will become violent. If a person with schizophrenia becomes violent, it is usually directed at family members and tends to take place at home.
6. Suicide Risk is High
Patients attempt suicide much more often than others. About 10 % die by suicide, especially young adult males.
7. The Substance Abuse Connection
Some people who abuse drugs show symptoms similar to those of schizophrenia. Therefore, people with schizophrenia may be mistaken for people who are affected by drugs. People who have schizophrenia are much more likely to have a substance or alcohol abuse problem than the general population. Some drugs, such as marijuana, amphetamines, or cocaine, may make symptoms worse.
8. Help for Everyday Challenges
Psychosocial treatments can help people with schizophrenia who are already stabilized on antipsychotic medication. Psychosocial treatments help these people deal with the everyday challenges of the illness, such as difficulty with communication, self-care, work, and forming and keeping relationships. Learning and using coping mechanisms to address these problems allows people with schizophrenia to socialize and attend school and work.
9. Medication Can Have Side Effects
Some people experience side effects when they start taking medication for schizophrenia. Most of these effects go away after a few days and often can be managed successfully. They may include drowsiness, dizziness when changing positions, blurred vision, rapid heartbeat, sensitivity to the sun, skin rashes, and menstrual problems in women.
Typical antipsychotic medications can cause side effects related to physical movement, such as rigidity, persistent muscle spasms, tremors, and restlessness. Atypical antipsychotic medications can cause major weight gain and changes in metabolism.
10. Medication Compliance Matters
Some people stop taking their medication because they feel better or think they don’t need it anymore. But no one should stop taking an antipsychotic medication without talking with his or her doctor. When a doctor says it’s okay to stop taking a medication, it should be gradually tapered off, never stopped suddenly.