black and white newspaper clippings with the word schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is an often-ignored illness that impacts the lives of thousands of people and the number of myths surrounding the diagnosis can exacerbate the difficulties of those affected, contributing to a negative mindset. Here are some of the common misconceptions about schizophrenia.

Myth: Schizophrenia means a split personality

Fact: While the name schizophrenia is derived from Greek and means ‘split mind’, it doesn’t mean split personality. Schizophrenia can change the way a person thinks by altering the way they feel and respond to certain situations. This change happens as their emotions fluctuate from day-to-day and the lack of a logical thought process.

Myth: People living with schizophrenia are always dangerous or violent

Fact: On the contrary, people living with schizophrenia are more likely to harm themselves or become victims of violence as opposed to harming others.

Myth: People living with schizophrenia always hallucinate

Fact: The most common symptoms of schizophrenia include low motivation, dulled emotions, rambling speech and the inability to express emotions. While hallucinations are one of the symptoms, they do not affect all people living with schizophrenia.

Myth: Schizophrenia runs in the family

Fact: While schizophrenia can be inherited, it’s not always the case. Should someone in your family be diagnosed with schizophrenia, it doesn’t mean you will have it as well.

Here are some more facts about schizophrenia

  • On average, people living with schizophrenia have a reduced life expectancy by up to 18 years.
  • Because of the severity of schizophrenia, up to 50% of people living with the disorder attempt suicide.
  • Schizophrenia ranks in the top 10 causes of disability in developed countries.
  • The onset on schizophrenia and its symptoms begin between the ages of 15 to 30.

The early signs and symptoms of schizophrenia

Healthcare professionals have identified these early signs

1. Depression and social withdrawal

People living with undiagnosed schizophrenia, often have “down-days”, which leaves them feeling emotionally vulnerable and makes them withdraw from their social commitments or support systems.

2. Hostility, suspiciousness and extreme reaction to criticism

The early signs of delusional behaviour include doubting people close to them, reacting aggressively to simple forms of criticism. Hostility may arise when a person with early signs of schizophrenia is questioned about their lifestyle choices. A well-meaning question such as, “are you lonely?”, could trigger an overreaction.

3. Deterioration of personal hygiene

When a person begins showing signs of schizophrenia, they become depressed and socially withdrawn and may take less care of themselves, which negatively affects their personal hygiene.

4. Flat, expressionless reactions

From a blank gaze in their eyes to the lack of emotion in their voice, a person showing early signs of schizophrenia often appears numb to emotion and expression.

5. Forgetfulness and inability to concentrate

Another early sign of schizophrenia is delusions and hallucinations, resulting in forgetting important matters and reduced concentration. This often leads to the inability to hold down a job or maintain regular responsibilities.

While schizophrenia impacts the lives of people in several ways, it’s important to learn more about the disorder and not believe the myths and misconceptions. Visit schizophrenia24x7.co.za, a resourceful website packed with reliable information on treatment options and coping strategies.

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