Myths about schizophrenia

A patient suffering from schizophrenia may lack proper emotional responses. The condition leads to disintegration of the thought process. Mentioned ahead are the popular myths about schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is not treatableSchizophrenia is not completely curable, but it is definitely treatable. It is a manageable chronic illness just like diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc. Some lifestyle changes are necessary. With the right treatment, the symptoms lose intensity over time. Treatments include psychotherapy, medications, help from family, and self help. Psychotherapy helps the individual to maintain on their medication, learn required social skills, etc. Psychotherapy includes advice, education, reassurance, modeling, reality testing, limit setting, rehabilitation therapy, etc. The therapist shares a lot of time with the patient in this process.Schizophrenia is a genetic disorder

This is another misconception about schizophrenia. Here is a true story, which will explain why. Renowned schizophrenia researcher Dr. E Fuller Torrey had a sister with schizophrenia. He and his colleagues published a review on twin studies of schizophrenia in 1994. The overall pair wise concordance rate is 28 percent in identical twins and only 6 percent in other fraternal twins. This suggests that a reduction in shared genes from 100 percent to 50 percent reduces the risk of schizophrenia by nearly 80 percent.

In order to declare schizophrenia as an exclusive genetic disorder, the concordance rate for identical twins would have to be 100 percent. Even though the identical concordance rates may vary from one twin study to another, and some studies have reported higher rates than 28 percent, but they are never even close to 100 percent.

Schizophrenia is developed in a rural environmentEven though it is believed that schizophrenia may have environmental causes, no direct link between rural or urban living and schizophrenia has been found. Pederson and Mortensen (2001) studied a large sample of 1.9 million people in Denmark, a country where information about where people live is recorded in a national register and where people have to notify authorities when they change addresses in order to retain eligibility for benefits. The research found that children who spent 15 years of their lives in an urban environment were 2.75 time more likely to develop schizophrenia in adulthood than children who spend their childhoods in a rural environment.All Schizophrenia patients have the same symptoms

In reality, the disorder is characterized by a long list of diverse symptoms. All individuals with schizophrenia do not show similar symptoms, the intensity of those symptoms are also different at different stages of their life. These different symptoms include extreme oddities in perception, thinking, action, sense of self, sense of reality, and manner of relating to others. However, the hallmark of schizophrenia is a significant loss of contact with reality, referred to as psychosis. Although, the clinical presentation of schizophrenia differs from one patient to another.

There are too many types of schizophrenia to list down. The symptoms are so vast that even people diagnosed with the same sub-types of schizophrenia appear to behave differently.

Schizophrenia is more common in femalesThe is a complete fallacy. As a matter of fact, the ‘Nopoulos, Flaum, and Andreasen (1997) brain-imaging study’ shows that schizophrenia-related anomalies of the brain is more severe in male patients than in female patients. Schizophrenia is also more common in males than in females. The reasons of this bias is unknown as of now.People who have delusions suffer from schizophreniaConstant delusions and hallucinations are common symptoms of schizophrenia. As a matter of fact, more than 90 percent of individuals with schizophrenia, at some time in their illness go through it. But not all people who have delusion are suffering from schizophrenia. There are many other reasons behind delusions. Delusions are almost always pathological or the result of an illness. Poor sight or poor hearing abilities may also confuse an individual’s perception and cause delusions.Anti-psychotic medications are worse than the illness itselfA new class of anti-psychotics medications are developed much more recently. These are referred to as “second-generation” medications. Clozapine, risperidone, olanzapine, and ziprasidone are a few examples. The second-generation medication has been tremendously beneficial to many patients with schizophrenia. Patients taking anti-psychotics are less likely to be hospitalized. However, these medications are not without side effects. Drowsiness and weight gain are very common.People with schizophrenia have split personalitySchizophrenia literally means, “Split mind”, and it has often been confused with “split personality”. Split personality is an entirely different form of disorder called dissociative identity disorder. In schizophrenia there is a split within the intellect, between the intellect and emotion, and between the intellect and the external reality. Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were not a case of schizophrenia.People with schizophrenia are dangerousMany people believe that all schizophrenia patients are dangerous, violent, and out of control. Whereas the truth is that even though some people with schizophrenia may be dangerous, most are not. Some individuals with schizophrenia tend to be a little prone to violent outbursts, and they maybe dangerous but the vast majority of schizophrenia patients are actually quite fearful and withdraw themselves from society when they become symptomatic.People with schizophrenia are uselessThe American Psychiatric Association’s (2004) Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients with Schizophrenia highlights the importance of psychosocial interventions like case management, whereby patients are helped with getting the required services in the society. Many schizophrenia patients are employed after some training. Statistics indicate that over 80% of the patients have been able to get back to living a normal life and they have had a successful work life as well. As a matter of fact, several researches have shown that people with schizophrenia or any mental illness do better if involved in work. Work is also considered an important part of rehabilitation. It helps to restore self esteem, reconnect with the society and also helps to involve the mind in something meaningful.People with schizophrenia need institutionalizationA minority of patients (around 12 percent) required long-term institutionalization. Psychosocial approaches and second-generation anti-psychotics medications have been tremendously beneficial to many patients with schizophrenia. With some family help, group therapy sessions, and proper medications, the disease can be kept under control, just like other chronic diseases.

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