Schizophrenia is one of the most misunderstood mental conditions. There is strong stigma attached and people living with it are often portrayed as dangerous. It is diagnosed in the late teens and early adulthood. Some even develop symptoms in their early thirties, but it is uncommon to diagnose over the age of forty. However late onset of schizophrenia can be diagnosed as early as forty-five. In order to be diagnosed, patients must exhibit the common symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, negative symptoms (which can be confused for depression), and cognitive issues, such as not processing thoughts clearly or being in denial that they have the disease.
The origins of the disease vary. Genetic predisposition is a major factor. In fact you are six times more likely to develop schizophrenia if you have a parent or sibling with it. Major life events can also trigger schizophrenia, such as psychotic breaks.
Schizophrenia is treatable and if diagnosed early enough, treatment can help reduce episodes of psychosis and prevent hospitalizations.
When asked, “what is something you wish others understood about schizophrenia?” the following was received:
“My son has paranoid schizophrenia. Yes we were frightened when he was diagnosed but I could leave my young son in his care knowing he would be well looked after and he would do anything for me and his siblings. Such a lovely person inside and out.”
“Medicine is prescribed for those who do not break out from thought patterns and now they can’t go back when you should have transcended.”
“What I see and hear is real to me and that I can’t help the way I am. They will never fully understand what I have to deal with and that does effect me so much, I’m always paranoid and I don’t know what the difference anymore on what is real or not.”
“What I see and hear is real to me and it’s treatable.”
“We aren’t violent people to be afraid of, no matter what is portrayed in the movies.”
“You can hold a job, have kids, and live a normal life.”