A brief article discussing schizophrenia
Schizophrenia: Breaking the Mystery
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder that affects approximately 2.2 million people in the U.S. alone (NIMH). Although most people have some idea of what schizophrenia is there are still a lot of myths surrounding this disease. Television portrays the schizophrenic as the homeless person who wanders the streets talking to imaginary voices or else as a dangerous predator to be feared and while both of these portrayals can be true, it is not the norm. Although there is no cure for schizophrenia it can be treated and with early diagnosis and proper treatment those suffering from schizophrenia can live productive and fairly normal lives.
Schizophrenia is thought to be caused by a combination of genetics and environment, stress and/or trauma. The age of onset for this disease can vary greatly, some may display symptoms at an extremely young age while others may not be affected until later in life. The symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of schizophrenia are delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, disorganized or catatonic behavior, as well as several negative symptoms including; social withdrawal and a lessening in emotional response (NIMH). Often a diagnosis of schizophrenia encompasses other mental disorders as well including; obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and many others. Because this disorder can be so devastating to the person suffering from it if left undiagnosed or untreated it has caused the media to portray the most negative aspects of it which has led to a lot of misconceptions about the disease. The facts would probably surprise most people.
Throughout the years a lot of progress has been made in the treatment of schizophrenia and because most pharmaceuticals find this a good disease to target for drug design several new options are in the works (Ashton & Todd, 2011). There are several treatment options available for controlling the symptoms of schizophrenia including antipsychotic drug therapy, psycho-social treatment, and drug therapy. The success rate of these treatments is extremely high, especially if the disorder is caught early. Ten years after the diagnosis of schizophrenia 25% completely recover, 25% are greatly improved and live independently, while another 25% have improved but still require support (Schizophrenia facts and statistics).
Now let’s talk about the medias portrayal of the homeless schizophrenic, they would have viewers believe that a large portion of schizophrenics live on the streets however the fact is that only an estimated 6% percent live on the street or in homeless shelters while a whopping 28% live independently and can take care of themselves (Schizophrenia facts and statistics). The media also likes to portray schizophrenics as a part of the violent criminal element while the fact is that a schizophrenic is much more likely to harm themselves than they are to harm others. Most people suffering from schizophrenia are withdrawn and prefer to be left alone. These statistics and findings are a good example of how television can distort the truth. It is important that people become educated about schizophrenia, only then will the negative stereotyping associated with this disorder be laid to rest and I personally understand how these negative stereotypes can affect a schizophrenic because I live with one.
My husband was diagnosed with schizophrenia at the age of nineteen thirty years ago. He has been treated for the disorder continuously since that time. He has on a few occasions been hospitalized for a few weeks at a time when a drug therapy quits being as effective but for the most part nobody would ever guess that he has a mental disorder. We have been married for thirty- one years and raised four children. My husband is the owner of a successful masonry business and interacts with the public on a daily basis. My husband is not the only one to conquer the negative aspects of this disease there are websites that display the success stories of others who suffer from schizophrenia and perhaps the most famous success story is the one of Nobel Prize winner John Nash who struggled with the disorder in a time when the treatment options were not as successful as the ones currently available are.
The negative stereotyping that the media engages in can be hurtful to the many people who are successfully living with schizophrenia and others often respond in a more reserved or fearful manner if they know someone has schizophrenia. We never tell people that my husband suffers from this disorder for fear that it may affect the success of his business, but it should not have to be that way and nobody who suffers from the disease should have to feel shame for having a mental disorder.
Ashton, Mark, and Adam Todd, and Current Research and Development of New Treatments of Schizophrenia. The Pharmaceutical Journal, 11, Feb. 2011. Web
NIMH, Schizophrenia. U.S. Gov. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/prevalence/schizophrenia.shtml
Schizophrenia: facts and Statistics, Scizophrenia.com 2010 http://www.schizophrenia.com/szfacts.htm