Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe neurological disorder that is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). It is characterized by episodes in which the individual is unable to distinguish between real and unreal experiences. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) explains that schizophrenia is “a serious mental illness that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” The distorted thinking patterns that present with schizophrenia can lead to disabling symptoms, as they can interfere with an individual’s ability to function in his or her daily life. The signs and symptoms of schizophrenia vary from person to person, but most commonly involve disorganized speech, visual and/ or auditory hallucinations, delusions, certain antisocial behavior patterns (e.g., involuntary movements, poor hygiene practices, catatonia, etc.), and an impaired ability to function appropriately.
Schizophrenia is estimated to affect 1.1 percent of the population, or approximately 2.8 million adults, in the United States aged 18 or older. Although its prevalence is relatively low when compared with other mental health disorders, schizophrenia is recognized as one of the most disabling diseases affecting humankind. There is no cure for schizophrenia, but long-term treatment can help an individual learn how to manage his or her symptoms and prevent the worsening of symptoms. However, treatment can be complicated as people with schizophrenia are often unaware that they have it. In any given year, an estimated 40 percent of individuals with the condition are untreated.
People with schizophrenia commonly show signs of another condition called anosognosia. Anosognosia is defined as “a neurological condition in which the patient is unaware of their neurological deficit or psychiatric condition.” This causes a person with schizophrenia to be incapable of recognizing that they present with its signs and symptoms, which leads them to believe that treatment would be unnecessary. Further, anosognosia can indirectly trigger schizophrenic delusions, which perpetuates an erroneous notion that those who appear to be helping them are instead attempting to inflict harm. Experts estimate that between 50% and 90% of people with schizophrenia also have anosognosia.
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Every family in need of mental health treatment must select a program that will best suit the needs of their family. When one member of a family struggles, it impacts everyone in the family unit. To maximize the benefits of treatment we work closely with the entire family to ensure that everyone is receiving the support they need through these difficult times.
Seeking help is never easy, but you are not alone! If you or someone you know needs mental health treatment, we strongly encourage you to reach out for help as quickly as possible. It is not uncommon for many mental health difficulties to impact a person’s life, long term. Pursuing support at the beginning of one’s journey can put the individual in the best position to learn how to manage themselves in a healthy way so they can go on to live happy and fulfilling lives.
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