Mental Health First Aid Schizophrenia Part 1
What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a severe psychotic mental health disorder that affects how a person may be thinking, feeling, and behaving. Individuals suffering with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality and will not know what is real and what is unreal
Schizophrenia is a long-term condition that will also affect a number of psychological symptoms such as delusions or hallucinations
Even though schizophrenia may not be as common as other mental health disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.
How does media coverage cause fear and misunderstanding to schizophrenia?
The media tends to blow schizophrenia out of proportion and it is widely misinformed in the media, due to this a lot of the general public have a fear of this condition. For example, the media often use the term “schizophrenia” to portray someone as being totally out of control or having a split personality – but it’s not and this leads to high volumes of the general public to believe it is without understanding the disorder.
Media coverage can also portray an individual with this condition as violent and that the individual is only safe to society if they are locked away in an institute. Well this is not the case as most people who suffer schizophrenia do not tend to commit any violent crime – but studies have shown that individuals with drug or alcohol problems are twice more likely to commit violent crime
Stigmatisation of the media cover of is schizophrenia can be excessive. For example, the individual can be seen as being so disruptive that people with those conditions must be isolated from society. This can also cause fear for the person suffering and also their family
What are possible causes of schizophrenia?
With schizophrenia, there is no evidence or answers as to why some people will suffer with schizophrenia and some people won’t – but at the same time, its not easy to identify what caused it. Individuals who will be diagnosed with schizophrenia will have a few ongoing factors in their life which could possible trigger the causes,
The possible causes of schizophrenia could be:
- A genetic inheritance can be a cause of this, as some families are more prone than others. By developing a certain gene can make someone more vulnerable but not necessarily develop schizophrenia however, someone is more likely to develop this condition if their parent has schizophrenia.
- Drug abuse can be a possible cause of schizophrenia – for example, using excessive amounts of cannabis, an individual is six times more likely to develop this condition if they use cannabis or any other recreational drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, LSD or ketamine on a regular basis.
- Brain damage can be a possible cause of schizophrenia – for example, either an infection during pregnancy or the possible lack of oxygen to the brain is reduced during birth.
- A stressful life event may trigger schizophrenia, this could be things such as, being homeless or living in deprived areas where poverty is high, a job loss or loss of a family member.
- Physical or verbal abuse may also be factors of the causes of schizophrenia.
What are the feelings an individual with schizophrenia may experience?
A person with schizophrenia may experience positive and negative feelings
Positive feelings with schizophrenia do not mean good, it actually refers to symptoms not present in an individual without schizophrenia – the positive symptoms help identify abnormal mental functions such as;
- Delusions such as a false belief a person has even though there is over whelming evidence to suggest otherwise, such as believing they are being followed or spied on constantly. There is limited examples of delusions as it can be about anything.
- Hallucinations are when a person is hearing, seeing, feeling or smelling things that are not real, most people with schizophrenia say they hear voices, these voices may give orders that they feel should be followed and can be often aggressive voices or of a sexual nature
- Thought process, this can be things such as, thought insertion where a person belief their thoughts in their mind are not their own.
- Another one could be thought broadcasting where the individual believes their thoughts are being read by others.
- Thought withdrawal, this is where the individual thinks someone is removing their own thoughts from their own mind
- Thought blocking, this is where the individual had a mind block where they cannot remember what they were actually talking about in a certain conversation
Mental Health First Aid Schizophrenia – Negative symptoms
- Some negative feelings with schizophrenia are the absence of the mental function that should be present and these could be:
- Lack of motivation where everything seems as an effort, tasks may not be complete and concentration levels are poor. This can include facial expressions and voice tone
- Emotions may be flat and sometimes these emotions maybe odd, for example they mag giggle at something that is actually not funny or sad
- A person experiencing negative feelings would also be more likely to self-neglect and show signs of poor personal hygiene, and may appear to be in their own zone of thoughts. Education can be difficult and this could have memory problems for the individual and also difficulty in planning and organising.
How can schizophrenia affect the individual and their life?
Schizophrenia can carry a vast negative impact with major affects to an individual’s life and normal day to day life and routine can become near impossible. Delusions and hallucinations will stop the individual focusing and they are more likely to neglect themselves such as personal care, dressing, eating and drinking and going shopping.
individuals suffering with schizophrenia often turn to alcohol and or drugs to take away any thoughts. This would have a huge effect as it will make the condition worse, especially if the individual is on medication as it would not work as effective.
An individual with schizophrenia may withdraw themselves and this would make it harder for them to have a healthy relationship with their friends and family, they may even become suspicious or hostile of them.
Individuals with schizophrenia often have suicidal thoughts. Any talk of suicide from someone suffering schizophrenia should be taken extremely serious and help should be sorted immediately