Could you survive Schizophrenia?

Imagine seeing black spots on a wall, but no one else can see them?  What if you heard someone calling your name, but you were home alone?  What if your family was trying to poison you or your friends were trying to harm you, or so you thought?  This is the reality of someone who has schizophrenia.  The reality they experience, the sights and sounds, are not real at all.

Learning more about his illness changed my life.  Growing up with a family member with this illness wasn’t easy, but Surviving Schizophrenia changed my life.  NIMH, the National Institute on Mental Health, describes schizophrenia  as “a chronic, severe, and disabling, brain disorder that has affected people throughout history”.  While I don’t have the illness, I am at risk  for it.  I had to learn  about it and learn to live with Schizophrenia because my mother has it.  The challenges a family goes through trying to support a loved one with this illness are difficult to describe.  I believe the only way a family can survive these trying times, is to first learn about the illness.  There are many books that help you understand this disorder.  Also, learn about local resources: your local NAMI chapter, your local hospital, and even reach out to a therapist. Once I learned more about the illness, I had I began seeing a therapist, and I would recommend it for  anyone that is close with someone suffering from Schizophrenia. There will be incredible highs and lows, and self-care must be a priority.   I strongly suggest that if there are children involved, they are educated on the illness given additional support.   What I’ve learned about the illness so far:

The causes of the brain disorder can include:

Genes & Environment:

-Schizophrenia runs in families.

-Studies suggest that “when a certain gene is key to making important brain chemicals malfunctions” the result can be schizophrenia.

-Environmental factors such as viruses or malnutrition before birth and other unknown psychosocial factors are a factor as well.

Brain chemistry & Structure:

-An imbalance in various brain chemicals may play a role in the development of schizophrenia.

– Scientists have proven that, in small ways, the brain of someone with schizophrenia is different than someone without the illness.

-Since the brain undergoes changes during puberty, this may be  why symptoms don’t appear until after puberty.

Learn who is at risk:  

-Schizophrenia is genetic; it runs in the family so knowing your family’s mental history is important.

-According to NIMH schizophrenia occurs in 1% of the population, “but it occurs in 10% of people that have a first degree relative (parent or sibling) with the disorder”

-Although genetics play a large role in the illness, environmental factors, are a factor.

What are the symptoms:

-Hallucinations: Individuals hear, see, and even smell things that are not there.  Many people with schizophrenia will often hear voices, and “talk” to the voices.

-Delusions: False beliefs are another symptom of schizophrenia.  They may believe that people are trying to poison them or that the tv or radio is “tapped”.
What is important to remember:  There is no cure for schizophrenia, however, it is treatable.  There are many people that suffer from this illness, yet still lead successful and productive lives. By knowing your family’s mental health history, you will know if you are at risk for the illness.

While I don’t have the illness, I am at risk  for it.  I had to learn  about it and learn to live with Schizophrenia because my mother has it.  The challenges a family goes through trying to support a loved one with this illness are difficult to describe.  I believe the only way a family can survive these trying times, is to first learn about the illness.  There are many books that help you understand this disorder.  Also, learn about local resources: your local NAMI chapter, your local hospital, and even reach out to a therapist. Once I learned more about the illness, I had I began seeing a therapist, and I would recommend it for  anyone that is close with someone suffering from Schizophrenia.  I strongly suggest that if there are children involved, they are educated on the illness given additional support.

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