Schizophrenia is a disorder that directly impacts the brain and what it interprets as reality. Schizophrenia evidences itself usually sometime between the ages of 18 and 35, though it can happen at other ages as well. Schizophrenia occurs more in males than in females and at the time of diagnosis, it can be devastating to the person experiencing it–and to the family or loved ones trying to understand the disease process. There are many theories as to the origins or causes of schizophrenia but to date, there are no real “cures.”Can psychotherapy be used to treat the different types of schizophrenia? The answer is yes, but not alone.
The standard of treatment for schizophrenia is a medication regime to dilute the dangerous symptoms of the mind disorder and get the person suffering back to square one. However, psychotherapy is a positive (and often necessary and recommended) adjunct to medical treatment for the disorder.
It should be emphasized though that medication is the first line of treatment and the most immediately effective.
What is Schizophrenia?
In all of its different forms, schizophrenia is a severely disabling brain disorder that is never cured. If patients remain faithful to their medication routine, they can and will usually live a fairly normal and well-ordered life. It is a chronic condition and as stated, there is no known cure.However, usually relapses occur because patients with schizophrenia feel better or are doing well. They think that the disease has been cured and inevitably go off their medication–or cut back on it. Without chemical stabilization of their thought processes, most schizophrenics relapse fairly quickly and the relapses can have serious consequences.A girl in her late teens who decided that God had healed her. She was so full of life and so excited to embrace her life without medication. She very quickly decompensated and had to be emergently hospitalized because she became suicidal right in front of me. It was like watching a horror movie play out to see her change so quickly.Another guy who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late 20s. He decided to go off his medications one day unbeknowst to anyone and just “disappeared” rather than arriving home one night. He was in his early 30s by then. He boarded a train and traveled some 2000 miles before his family found him–on the street, living out of trashcans and high on drugs–whereas he had 2 weeks before been working at a prestigious law office in the Seattle area.
This illustrates how quickly a schizophrenic without medication can decompensate.
Symptoms of Schizophrenia :
Delusions–misinterpretation or misconception of reality.
Hallucinations–seeing people, hearing voices that do not exist–in some cases, the voices tell the person to harm themselves–or others.
Derangement of thoughts–unable to think clearly or speak clearly–speaking in gibberish or word salad.
Behavioral disruptions–extremely provocative behaviors, violence or extreme agitation.
Repercussions of Schizophrenia :
Loss of motivation–to do anything.
Loss of interest in everyday activities.
Lack of emotions or heightened emotions.
Neglect of personal hygiene.
Social withdrawal or isolation.
Reduced or impaired ability to plan or complete tasks.
Worst Outcomes for Schizophrenics :
Unemployment–or inability to keep a job long.
Devaluation of self.
Suicidal or homicidal.
Loss of family and friends.
Why Do Some People Get Schizophrenia?
There are many theories as to why some people get it and some don’t… from what part of the continent you live on to what nationality a person is. Some of the current thoughts on causes:
Family history puts someone at much higher risk (I worry about this a lot!)
Babies who did not get adequate nutrition in uterus.
Exposure to high levels of stress or violence
African American descent but other nationalities as well