Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is an umbrella term for a wide range of conditions where a person’s experience of reality doesn’t line up with the experiences of the people around them. In the Western world, this is typically referred to as delusions or hallucinations, which are often auditory but sometimes visual or tactile. These tend to interfere with a person’s ability to think clearly, manage emotions, make decisions and relate to other people. Depending on whether the individual is receiving treatment, symptoms can range from severe to hardly noticeable.

Some cultures refer to these experiences as spiritual emergence, or a connection with a divine world, rather than an experience that is non-rational or separate from “actual” reality.

Each person is unique, and should explore their options and select for themselves the most effective coping mechanisms for living with schizophrenia. Treatment for schizophrenia in the Western world focuses primarily on eliminating and/or managing the symptoms of the illness, through antipsychotic medications, psychotherapy, peer support groups, family support, and spiritual and indigenous practices.

1% of adults in the United States have a diagnosis of schizophrenia

National Institute of Mental Health

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Three-quarters of persons with schizophrenia develop the illness between 16 and 25 years of age

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America

Thoughts:

A person with schizophrenia might think things like:

  • “Everyone must think I’m completely crazy.”
  • “I am convinced that reality is different from what other people think it is.”
  • “People are watching me and talking about me.”
  • “I am hearing voices that others around me don’t seem to hear.”

Feelings:

A person with schizophrenia might feel:

  • Loss of control
  • An unshakable feeling that the world is not safe

The percentage of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia who have a substance use problem may be as high as 50%

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

Additional Resources

Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) Provide support groups for Schizophrenics Anonymous, a self-help group for persons with schizophrenia or related illnesses. SARDAA organizes conference calls, local support groups, and provides training for group leaders. They offer in depth resources about research and policy to increase the understanding of schizophrenia and promote recovery. Go to site
Schizophrenia.com Online community for families and sufferers providing in-depth practical information, support and education to those impacted by schizophrenia. Includes a recommended books section, online forum, extensive up to date news and research articles, and helpful strategies to reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia. Go to site
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) For support and family help, with a network through communities around the U.S. for individuals and families struggling with mental health challenges. Contains articles aimed at helping people find resources, get help, and connect with those in similar situations and includes online discussion groups. Offer a number of ways to get involved including NAMI Walks, awareness events and campus groups. Also offer various support groups for grief and bereavement in different areas of the U.S.  Go to site
National Institute of Mental Health Extensive information and research transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses for prevention, recovery, and cure. Offers health information specific to age and gender. Go to site

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