Help for Schizophrenia

Help for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that typically begins in late adolescence and early adulthood.  Symptoms of schizophrenia include “negative” and “positive” symptoms.  Negative symptoms refer to a lack of an emotion or characteristic, and these symptoms include flat affect (lack of facial expression), poor eye contact, difficulty concentrating, lack of interest, inability to take care of oneself.  Positive symptoms, on the other hand, are symptoms of schizophrenia that are gained from the illness and include one or more symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, or bizarre behavior.

People with schizophrenia often hear voices, and they might also see, taste, smell, or feel things that are not there, which are all called halluciations.  Delusions, another frequent symptom of schizophrenia, are ideas a person has that are not true.  For example, individuals with schizophrenia might think they are possessed, believe someone can read and control their minds, or think they have special powers.  Bizarre behavior might be varied, but it refers to behavior that is deemed inappropriate or strange to most people.  People with schizophrenia also tend to have disorganized speech, which means their speech is hard to follow or understand, or they might have odd sentence structure or jump from one topic to another without any connection.

Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, and people with schizophrenia need continued help and support.  With proper medication and treatment, people with schizophrenia can live by themselves and work.  Some individuals might have a more severe case and will require hospitalization or daily care.  Every individual is different, and a majority of people can improve their symptoms and daily functioning with support.

Treatment for schizophrenia includes medication, therapy, hospitalization, support groups, and vocational programs.  Medication for mental illness is often a trial-and-error process, and psychiatrists will likely need to try out a combination of medicines with varying doses to evaluate which ones are best and have the least amount of side effects with the best benefit.  Individual and group therapy is important for people with schizophrenia, and these sessions can help you determine appropriate goals and teach you strategies for reaching those goals.  Sometimes changes in medication or stressful life events can bring about acute symptoms, and hospitalization might be required to stabilize symptoms of schizophrenia.  Vocational programs and other day treatment centers can help give you skills you need to hold relationships and work, and these programs can also help you find recreational activities and find the best living arrangements.

Some individuals with schizophrenia find they do not have family support, and it can be difficult to live on one’s own.  Through a support group or social worker, you can apply for SSD or SSI, which is Social Security benefits that will give you money for housing and treatment.  Many hospitals will also pay individuals with schizophrenia for participating in drug and treatment research.  Additionally, you can get support and find resources from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

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Written by: Candice Evans See other articles by Candice Evans
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