Imagine seeing black spots on a wall, but no one else can see them? What if you heard someone calling your name, but you were home alone? What if your family was trying to poison you or your friends were trying to harm, or so you thought? This is the reality of someone who has schizophrenia. Literally the reality they experience, the sights and sounds, are not real at all.
Learning more about his illness changed my life. Growing up with a family member with this illness wasn’t easy, but Surviving Schizophrenia changed my life. NIMH, the National Institute on Mental Health, describes schizophrenia as “a chronic, severe, and disabling, brain disorder that has affected people throughout history”. The causes of the brain disorder can include:
Genes & Environment:
-Schizophrenia runs in families.
-Studies suggest that “when a certain gene is key to making important brain chemicals malfunctions” the result can be schizophrenia.
-Environmental factors such as viruses or malnutrition before birth and other unknown psychosocial factors are a factor as well.
Brain chemistry & Structure:
-An imbalance in various brain chemicals may play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
– Scientists have proven that, in small ways, the brain of someone with schizophrenia is different than someone without the illness.
-Since the brain undergoes changes during puberty, this may be why symptoms don’t appear until after puberty.
Learn who is at risk:
-Schizophrenia is genetic; it runs in the family so knowing your family’s mental history is important.
-According to NIMH schizophrenia occurs in 1% of the population, “but it occurs in 10% of people that have a first degree relative (parent or sibling) with the disorder”
-Although genetics play a large role in the illness, environmental factors, are a factor.
What are the symptoms:
-Hallucinations: Individuals hear, see, and even smell things that are not there. Many people with schizophrenia will often hear voices, and “talk” to the voices.
-Delusions: False beliefs are another symptom of schizophrenia. They may believe that people are trying to poison them or that the tv or radio is “tapped”.
What is important to remember: There is no cure for schizophrenia, however, it is treatable. There are many people that suffer from this illness, yet still lead successful and productive lives. By knowing your family’s mental health history, you will know if you are at risk for the illness.
Feministas, do you know or know of someone that has been affected by this illness? How do you think you would respond to a loved on with the illness?