What is schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe and debilitating brain disorder that often causes people to exhibit difficulty functioning and interacting socially. It can affect both men and women. It is often seen in men in the late adolescence and early adulthood. It is seen most in women between the ages of 25 and 35. Research shows that chemicals in the brain and differences in the brain’s structure contribute to a person becoming schizophrenic. People who suffer from this disorder are not alone: more than two million American adults have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
What are some symptoms of schizophrenia?
Since there are no medical tests used to diagnose schizophrenia, doctors often look for patients who exhibit both positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include: hallucinations (disturbed perceptions of reality often including sound, touch and smell), delusions (believing one’s opinions and beliefs are real when they are not), and disorganized thinking (inability to think straight and connect thoughts into logical sequences). Negative symptoms include: lack of drive or initiative, social withdrawal, apathy (indifference to surroundings), emotional unresponsiveness, and blunting (speaking monotone with decreased facial expressions.) According to the DSM, at least two of these symptoms must be present for a significant portion of time during a one-month period (or less, if successfully treated).
What are the warning signs?
Warning signs often include, but are not limited to:
- Hearing or seeing something that is not there
- Constant feeling of being watched
- Peculiar or nonsensical way of spelling
- Strange posture
- Feeling indifferent
- Deterioration and/or detachment from work or academic schooling
- Change in personality
- Increased withdrawal from social situations
- Inability to sleep
- Bizarre or erratic behaviors
What are some treatments for schizophrenia?
- A Typical Antipsychotic: This is effective in treating positive symptoms as well as negative symptoms (lack of motivation, social withdrawal, and emotional unresponsiveness).
- Conventional Medications: These types of medications reduce the symptoms and help delay the re-occurrence of symptoms (relapse).
- Psychosocial Treatment: This type of treatment targets social, psychological, and work related difficulties. It focuses on improving social functioning. Most of these treatments take place in a clinical setting: a hospital, the community, and/or the individual’s home or work.
- Rehabilitation: This type of non-medical therapy helps schizophrenics lead productive lives. It helps individuals with counseling, job skills, problem solving, money management and familiarizes them with the use of public transportation.
- Psychotherapy: This type of therapy is either done with a group or in a one-on-one session with a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social worker, licensed and registered nurse, or behavior analyst. The sessions with these trained individuals will focus on past or present problems and experiences, thoughts, feelings and relationships.
- Support Systems: This type of therapy involves educating the friends and family of the individual suffering from schizophrenia on how to comfort, support and provide the individual with stability.
Our approach at North Shore Pediatric Therapy
At North Shore Pediatric Therapy, we teach individuals the appropriate coping mechanisms needed to lead productive lives. With direct one-on-one or group sessions, we teach individuals with schizophrenia how to attend school, work, and socialize. A positive relationship with a therapist or a case manager at North Shore Pediatric Therapy provides the patient a reliable source of information, sympathy, encouragement, and hope, all of which are essential for managing the disease. With consistent therapy, patients better understand and adjust to living with schizophrenia by educating themselves about the causes of the disorder, common symptoms or problems they may experience, and the importance of staying on medications. Patients who receive regular psychosocial treatment also adhere better to their medication schedule and have fewer relapses and hospitalizations.