Schizophrenia: Separating Myth from Reality
Organizations and institutions across the globe with a commitment to mental health care and education will observe Schizophrenia Awareness Week from May 13-19, 2020.
In keeping with the week, Northeast Ohio Medical University’s Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center is sharing some of the key insights that it provides to the organizations it serves through staff training and educational materials.
Read on, to untangle some of the myths and learn about the signs, symptoms and realities of schizophrenia.
People with schizophrenia can recover
Commonly heard and held views of schizophrenia are often inaccurate, stigmatizing and unduly pessimistic.
With the right treatments and support, people with schizophrenia can and do recover.
These individuals finish school, graduate from college, get good jobs, have long-term friendships, relationships and families of their own, vote, volunteer, live independently, pursue hobbies and special interests.
Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia
People with schizophrenia experience misperceptions that can affect their senses, ideas or behaviors. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Difficulties at work or school
- Social withdrawal
- Emotional changes
- Unusual thoughts or beliefs
- Trouble thinking clearly or concentrating
- Suspiciousness or extreme uneasiness with others
Myths and realities about schizophrenia
Myth: People with schizophrenia rarely, if ever, get well.
- Although schizophrenia may not be “cured,” people can and do cope with symptoms and lead meaningful, productive lives.
- With timely and appropriate treatment, between 43 and 84 percent of people with schizophrenia recover or improve significantly (Jansen, 2014)
Myth: People with schizophrenia are dangerous.
Reality: The vast majority of people with schizophrenia are neither violent nor dangerous to others.
Myth: It is impossible to relate to symptoms of psychosis if you have not experienced them yourself.
- Many experiences of psychosis exist on a continuum with “normal” experiences. All of us experience odd things at some point.
- Nine out of every 100 people will experience symptoms of psychosis at some time in their lives
Facts about schizophrenia
- Schizophrenia affects approximately one percent of Americans regardless of culture, race, economic status, gender or ethnicity.
- Average age of onset: for males, late teens to early 20s; for females, mid-20s to early 30s.
- Risk factors for developing schizophrenia include a family history of mental illness, stress and possibly substance use, especially cannabis.
More information for family members and friends*, as well as for clinicians, can be found on the BeST Center website. Resources include information on pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia and cognitive behavioral therapy.