Schizophrenia is a serious disorder which affects how a person thinks, feels and acts. A person with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary. They also may be unresponsive or withdrawn and have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations.
People often confuse schizophrenia with dissociative identity disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder). Unlike dissociative identity disorder, which is thought to be an effect of severe trauma during early childhood, schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, negative parental relationships, or sexual/emotional abuse.
What causes schizophrenia is not completely understood; although, it has long been believed that schizophrenia runs in families. Doctors usually make a diagnosis through interviews with the patient, as well as friends and family members.
A schizophrenia diagnosis can be made when all of the following are true about a patient:
- Schizophrenia symptoms have been present for at least six months
- Patient is significantly impaired by the symptoms (compared to the period prior to symptoms manifesting)
- Symptoms can’t be explained by another diagnosis, such as drug abuse or other mental illnesses
A diagnosis of schizophrenia is not a life-sentence of ever-worsening symptoms and hospitalizations. Despite the widespread misconception that people with schizophrenia have no chance of recovery or improvement, the reality is much more hopeful.
Studies have shown that for every five people who develop schizophrenia:
- 1 in 5 will get better within five years of their first episode
- 3 in 5 will get better, but will still have some symptoms
- 1 in 5 will continue to have trouble managing their symptoms
Schizophrenia isn’t very different from other chronic medical conditions, for which there isn’t a cure, it can be treated and managed with medication and supportive therapies.
As with any disease, early diagnosis and treatment can prevent complications and improve the chances of recovery.
If you are concerned about the possibility you or a loved one having schizophrenia, you can make an appointment at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry for an evaluation at 718-206-5587.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.